WASHINGTON D.C.--Over the summer, two NHL teams with little luck in the playoffs pulled of a blockbuster trade sending big name players across conferences in an attempt to change their postseason fortunes. The Washington Capitals sent Troy Brouwer, a prospect and a draft pick to St. Louis. What did they get in return? Someone who always seemed to disappear in the playoffs for them: T.J. Oshie.
Oshie continued rewriting his postseason reputation on Thursday with an overtime goal to complete a hat trick in the Capitals' 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"You always want to be the guy that's able to get the game winner, especially in overtime, the NHL playoffs, it's pretty cool," Oshie said.
The overtime goal marked the first playoff game-winning goal of Oshie's career. In fact, it is the first time Oshie has actually won a playoff game in which he scored, going 0-5 previously.
The final celebration, however, was a delayed one.
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Midway through the overtime period, Oshie carried the puck into the offensive zone and took it around the net looking for the wraparound. Goalie Matt Murray was there with the bad, but Oshie was able to tuck it underneath and just over the goal line...he thinks.
"I thought I saw it all t he way across - I don't know if I did or not - throw my hands up and look at the ref and he marked it a goal so that kind of assured me," Oshie said.
The Penguins weren't so sure and neither were the refs and the play was reviewed. Several overhead views showed nothing conclusive. In fact, it looked as if it was unlikely the puck completely crossed at any point. Another angle from the front, however, was able to show the puck underneath Murray's pad just past the goal line.
According to the explanation released by the NHL, "video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that T.J. Oshie's shot completely crossed the Pittsburgh goal line."
The overtime goal marked Oshie's fourth goal of the playoffs, but his impact in his first postseason with Washington has been measured by more than just points. In Game 5 against Philadelphia, Oshie dropped the gloves with Brayden Schenn just 10 seconds into the contest in response to Schenn's cross check to the back of Kuznetsov's knee in Game 4.
The Caps sorely missed a true top line right wing last season. Oshie has filled that role exceptionally well.
"I think he's a good compliment with [Nicklas Backstrom] and [Alexander Ovechkin]," Barry Trotz said.
Oshie has the skill to take advantage of the room he is granted as teams compensate for Ovechkin. That was especially evident on Oshie's second goal when three Pittsburgh players keyed on Ovechkin, leaving Oshie open in the middle to send the puck through Murray's five-hole.
Considering how seamless the transition has been for Oshie this season and into the playoffs with his new team, it begs the question, why didn't this translate to more success in St. Louis?
"Just like any player that comes into a playoff situation, some guys have instant success, some guys struggle with it," Trotz said.
Oshie's not struggling anymore.
In a game that featured superstar players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, the player who stole the show was Oshie.
Perhaps it's time to put Oshie's past postseason reputation to rest.
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