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T.J. Oshie looks poised to return to game action on Saturday

T.J. Oshie looks poised to return to game action on Saturday

The Capitals got Brooks Orpik back on Thursday and look like they may get T.J. Oshie back as well on Saturday for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The veteran winger was back on the top line for Friday's practice and Tom Wilson was practicing at his normal spot on the fourth, a sign that the team expects to have Oshie back.

"Felt pretty good so we'll see how ever we go here in the next 24 hours," Oshie said following practice. "I think it's looking pretty good for right now."

"He's getting real close," head coach Barry Trotz said. "Maybe tomorrow."

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Oshie has missed four games with an upper-body injury he suffered on Feb. 22. He also missed time earlier in the season for another upper-body issue, but he insisted the two were not related.

"It's something different," Oshie said. "Something that I don't think will affect me going forward at all. Just got to get 100 percent over it before I go back."

Getting to 100 percent is especially important as the Caps prepare for the playoffs.

With the team gearing up for a run at the Stanley Cup, a lingering injury to a top-line winger is a major concern and many may be surprised to see Oshie returning so quickly. But according to him, there's no reason to worry about whether he may be coming back too soon.

"The trainers are the guys that are not rushing me back and I'm the guy trying to get back so I think it balances itself out with them," Oshie said. "No one likes sitting out for whatever reason it is. The good side is that the team's playing well right now, we're winning some games. It's different when the team's not doing well. It's a little easier to sit on the sidelines when the team's winning."

Oshie suffered the most recent injury in a game against Philadelphia. Now it looks like he will be returning Saturday just in time to play...Philadelphia.

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Daniel Winnik comes up huge on a night when the Caps needed a hero

Daniel Winnik comes up huge on a night when the Caps needed a hero

Daniel Winnik scored twice Saturday night, including the game-winner late in the third period, to propel the Caps to a 4-1 win over Coyotes.

As important as the goals were for his team’s Presidents' Trophy hopes, they were just as important for him personally. The two tallies helped him tie his career-high for goals (11).

And he's now got eight games left to establish a new career high.

“It means a lot,” Winnik said. “I hope to surpass that. I hope I do get past that. It’s something I’ve tried to do for years. I don’t think that I can stress enough that I pray it happens.”

Winnik scored 11 goals in 2007-08 as a member of the Coyotes and did it again in 2010-11 for Colorado.

RELATED: Trotz recognizes ‘greatness’ of Ovechkin's accomplishments

This season, he’s scored against three of six former clubs—Arizona, Anaheim and San Jose. And on the upcoming road trip, the Caps will make stops in Denver and Arizona.  

“If I scored against all my other former teams, I’d have more goals,” Winnik cracked. “I play a couple of them here down the stretch so hopefully that’s the case.”

Winnik’s performance Saturday was absolutely clutch on a night when the Caps desperately needed someone to step up.

After Arizona tied the game 1-1 with 7:31 left to play, the Coyotes were almost immediately awarded a power play just as the game’s momentum swung sharply toward the visitors.

Winnik, however, helped snuff out that man advantage.

Then he made the biggest play of the game. On the rush, defenseman Dmitry Orlov flicked a pass to the 32-year-old winger, who raced to the net and fired a shot over Mike Smith’s glove.

And like that, the Caps were back on top, 2-1.

But Winnik wasn’t done. After Justin Williams made it 3-1 moments later, Winnik took advantage of an empty net situation, fighting off Coyotes winger Jamie McGinn before sweeping the puck into the goal with one hand on his stick.

“I thought it was fitting that Winnik, a penalty killer, scored that goal right at the end because they did a really good job,” Coach Barry Trotz said of the unit, which killed off all four shorthanded situations the Caps faced.

Trotz added that he’s not surprised to see Winnik equal his career-high six years after he last achieved the mark.  

“I said here [in Washington] I’m looking for offense,” Trotz said of a conversation he had with Winnik right after he was traded to Washington last season. “I don’t just want you to get the puck and, because you’re a penalty killer, just throw it down the ice. If you have time and space, you can do some stuff. I think he’s grown into that.”

Winnik’s contributions in an important game were not lost on his teammates, either.

“He does so many other things that don’t get noticed,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “He makes a lot of poised plays. He gets the puck out of our zone almost every time. He’s great on the penalty kill. You love to see guys like that get rewarded with big time goals. We need everyone at this point of the year.”

MORE CAPITALS: Caps muzzle Coyotes to set franchise record for home wins

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Barry Trotz takes a moment to recognize ‘greatness’ of Alex Ovechkin's accomplishments

Barry Trotz takes a moment to recognize ‘greatness’ of Alex Ovechkin's accomplishments

Saturday’s game was an historical night. Not only did the Capitals set a franchise record for him wins with their 32nd victory at Verizon Center, Alex Ovechkin also hit the 30-goal mark. Ovechkin is now one of just three players in NHL history to reach 30 goals in his first 12 seasons.

Following the game, head coach Barry Trotz wanted to make sure everyone, including Ovechkin knew magnitude of that achievement.

“Some history was made tonight,” Trotz said. “Start your career, you get 30 goals a year for first 12 years, you're one of three, you're in that elite company with Mike Gartner, a guy named, what's his name, Wayne Gretzky. You guys might have heard of him. And then Alex Ovechkin.”

RELATED: Caps muzzle Coyotes to set franchise record for home wins

Anytime you are in the same company with Wayne Gretzky, you’re doing something right. Ovechkin has a ways to go to catch both players as Gartner went on to tally 30+ in 15 seasons while Gretzky did it in 14.

But Ovechkin does not have to continue putting up 30 goal seasons for the rest of his career to prove his greatness. He has already established himself as the greatest goal scorer of his generation and Trotz wanted to make sure he knew just what he had accomplished.

Trotz spoke with Ovechkin after the game about his latest career milestone.

How did Ovechkin take it? Just as you would expect someone who has scored 30 or more in 12 straight seasons. He acted like he’s been there before.

“I think he's getting pretty casual with some of the greatness of the stuff he's done,” Trotz said. “He gives me a little wink or a little thumbs up or whatever. There's no hugging are anything like that or big speech.”

There will be a time in which Ovechkin will be able to reflect on all of his accomplishments and marvel at the incredible career he’s put together.

That time, however, with the team preparing for a run at the Stanley Cup, is not now. Ovechkin reminded the media of that after Saturday’s game saying, “More history to come.”

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