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The Dallas Stars twinkled on in to Capital One Arena on Tuesday night having not lost in D.C. in a big bright Texas blue moon. Would that magic hold, or would the Stars fall?
Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: T.J. Oshie, man made of ground bald eagles and concentrated flags, scored his fourth goal in four games and is officially #BACK.
Minus: Matt Niskanen now has two goals in three games, which means the very fabric of the space-time continuum is splintering and we’re all about to kiss our protons goodbye.
And now, this...
TJ Oshie imitating a bobblehead after his goal#CapsStars #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/rvzTBHGikl— HockeyKot (@hockeykot) March 21, 2018
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After a brutal 6-3 loss to the Flyers, the worst performance in Philadelphia since someone put snotty meat tissue on a hoagie and called it a cheesesteak, how would the Capitals and their defense respond back at home?
2. For the second game in a row, the Capitals would be without the athletic services of Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is out with an injury to the upper hemisphere of his body. Who would step up to fill the hole for Washington with two big points on the line?
3. Dallas got on the board first in this contest. Late in the first period, Smiling Pagan Tyler Seguin received a cross in the juiciest part of the right circle. Seguin waited, aimed, fired, and beat goalie Braden Holtby dead-to-rights to give the Stars the 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
4. The second-period got off to a more adrenaline-augmenting start. Bona fide American Hero T.J. Oshie finished off a good effort from Lars Eller and Alex Ovechkin, rifling a beautiful snap shot past goalie Kari Lehtonen and in to tie the game 1-1. The boomstick was Oshie’s fourth in the last four games, and 16th on the season. I OFFICIALLY DECLARE OSHBABE BACK!
But to be sure, I asked Oshie after the game if it was safe to say he was back. Oshie laughed, and said, “Oh! I’m feeling better, definitely. I feel like I got a little jump back. Pucks are starting to find the net a little bit for me. I don’t know if back is the right term, but I do feel good, and I think a lot of guys are feeling it right now.”
Oshie was also asked about the bobblehead celebration you see above. According to Oshie, it was all Tom Wilson’s idea. “In the locker room, we got here to the game and he had mentioned something about it. So, if you see it....it’s kind of embarrassing you guys saw that...I was looking right at Tom when I did it.”
5. Then, mere sixtieths of a minute later, surgical assassin Matt Niskanen launched a bowling ball-sized blast from above the left circle that dipped, ducked, dived, and deflected in to make it 2-1 Washington. The tally was Niskanen’s second in three games, which feels.....dangerous. Sexy dangerous.
I asked Niskanen (54 career goals) after the game if, with two goals in three games, opposing defenses were going to have to start double-teaming him. Niskanen, God bless him, looked me dead in the eye and with a straight face, said, “Probably not a good strategy if they’re the other team. I’m not that dangerous.”
6. But you know how Stars are; they always have to be the center of attention! Dallas’ Alexander Radulov, The Rad Russian, came right back, deflecting in a pump-action shotgun blast from defenseman John Klingberg. Just like that, this one was back knotted at 2-2.
7. But the second period wasn’t done making it rain goals like passing out diplomas at the club! With the Capitals on a power play, John Carlson looked to his left, his vision blurring euphorically as his eyes fuzzed with tears, and saw him: Alexander Ovechkin. “Come to me,” Ovi whispered, and Carlson slid him the puck he so desired. The Captain pounded it home for his league-leading 44th goal of the season, and a 3-2 Caps lead.
I asked Carlson after the game what actually goes through his head when sees Ovechkin waiting with that famous stick in the air. Carlson said, “Well, it’s pretty nice to be able to be the one that’s giving him those. When everyone’s in tune, that’s what happens.”
8. We weren’t done though. Dallas’ other star forward Jamie Benn got loose past Lars Eller and Matt Niskanen, and stone-cold undressed Dmitry Orlov like a prom night liason, dunking on the Russian defenseman to tie it at 3-3 at the final intermission.
9. The final period proceeded with nothing but tension and bile and the dust-ground gnashed teeth of every fan in the arena....that is, until the final five minutes. On a 4-on-4 with the game and the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance, Big John Carlson received a perfect feed from Lars Eller atop the left circle and jackhammered it home, sending Washington home 4-3 winners, winners, chicken dinners.
Carlson was asked after the game if his performance was at all motivated by the points race between him and fellow defenseman Klingberg. Carlson said, “No, I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win.” Obviously, Carlson was asked what is said to him. He demurred, saying only, “I can’t reveal.”
10. Braden Holtby got the nod again tonight and performed ably, stopping 24-of-27 including several big boppers that could have resulted in aeronautical catastrophe had Holtby not played savior.
Combined with a Penguins loss to the Islanders tonight, this was a good Tuesday for Caps fans. Next up is the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.