The Verizon Center lights dimmed red, and fans went wild on Thursday night, when the Washington Capitals started what is already seen to be an intense, hard-hitting, high-scoring series against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a game full of goals, shots and hits, and throughout the game, it looked like Pittsburgh controlled a lot of the tempo.
After Pittsburgh scored two goals in a span of 53 seconds around midway through the second period, the Capitals needed a hero to keep them in this game and to help them tie it up. Little do they know that one player on the bench had a whole hat-trick waiting on the blade of his stick: T.J. Oshie. He would step up and help Washington take this game back.
It took 33 seconds for him to get on the breakaway and fire his second goal of the playoffs past Matt Murray. Oshie would strike again the first three minutes of the third period off a pass from Alex Ovechkin, just five minutes before Nick Bonino would tie it up for the Penguins.
The game then took an intense turn to sudden-death overtime, and that’s when Oshie was ready to step up to the plate yet again. At 9:33 of the OT period, the American-born winger attempted a wrap-around, and after video review, it was revealed that the puck did in fact cross the goal line; Oshie had his hat-trick, and the Capitals had the Game 1 victory.
“That’s the kind of stuff you dream about when you’re a kid playing in the backyard by yourself is scoring the OT winner and getting a hat trick,” Oshie told NHL.com. “It was awesome.”
Awesome indeed, but this is not the first time that Oshie has displayed heroics in games that are on the line. It is not fair to discuss Oshie’s clutch-performance without looking at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The United States and Russia were tied at two, and headed to a shootout to decide who would advance forward. Thanks to the Olympic regulations, the United States could put out the same shooter more than once after three different players went in Rd. 1. That being said, they decided to go with their best shooter in Oshie.
He went on to score four shootout goals on six attempts to win the game for the United States.
Almost instantly, he was named an American hero, praised by President Obama and made a Twitter sensation. However, he was quick to say that he was not the hero at all.
“The American heroes are wearing camo,” Oshie said after the Olympic shootout win. “That’s not me.”
Oshie’s ability to come through in intense games is truly incredible. The Capitals will have to step it up in Game 2, and hopefully for Washington, Oshie has more up his sleeve.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.