When the sellout crowd of 18,506 fans streamed out of Verizon Center and onto F Street following the Capitals’ 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night, it’s a pretty safe bet many of them were re-describing one of the most spectacular passing plays they’d ever seen.
With the Caps holding a 1-0 lead thanks to Justin Williams’ second goal of the season, Caps goaltender Braden Holtby sprung Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on a 3-on-1 against Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
Ovechkin faked shot and found Backstrom streaking through the right circle. But instead of taking the shot, Backstrom dropped a pass to Oshie, as if setting a golf ball on a tee.
“I saw he was coming and he has a better shot than I do,” Backstrom said of Oshie. “I probably could have shot it, too. It was a nice pass by Ovi. But we scored, that’s all that mattered.”
Oshie, who now has four goals and four assists in his first nine games as a Capital, said he was 90 percent sure Backstrom would pass the puck to him in the slot.
“He always sees the next play before everyone else,” Oshie said. “I was ready and he had it on a tee for me. I don’t even know if it was moving. It was just sitting there for me.”
Oshie snapped a shot under the crossbar, sending the crowd into a wild celebration of high-fives, fist pumps and a bunch of “Did you see that’s?”
“I was just so excited it went in,” Oshie said. “If you watch, I’m actually looking at which guy to go to to hug because Ovi made a great play over and then Backy left it for me. So I just stopped and they came to me.”
The Caps went on to secure the win despite losing a coach’s challenge on a late goal by Columbus forward Matt Calvert, improving their record season-opening to 8-2-0.
After the game, Caps coach Barry Trotz said he momentarily allowed himself to be a fan on Oshie’s tic-tac-toe goal.
“Osh casually sent a rocket underneath the bar,” Trotz said. “He made it look so casual, like he was throwing a dart and it’s going right there. When you get to see those three players going on a 3-on-1 you sort of get excited. You think the chances of that thing going to the back of the net are pretty good.”
Trotz said his decision to get his top two lines out against the Blue Jackets’ fourth line resulted in the Caps’ fourth line of Michael Latta (7 shifts, 3:55), Andre Burakovsky (10 shifts, 7:09) and Brooks Laich (14 shifts, 7:28) seeing limited ice.
Trotz also confirmed goaltender Philipp Grubauer will get his second start of the season Saturday night in Florida against the Panthers.