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T.J. Oshie leads Washington Capitals to SO victory over Columbus Blue Jackets

By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange
T.J. Oshie leads Washington Capitals to SO victory over Columbus Blue Jackets
Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) scored the only goal during the shootout, and Washington defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Thursday night at Verizon Center. File Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- T.J. Oshie continues to build his reputation for success in shootouts.

The Capitals winger scored the only goal during the shootout, and Washington defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Thursday night at Verizon Center.

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Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky through the five-hole on the first shot of the session. He improved to 4-for-6 in shootout attempts this season, while the remainder of the Capitals are 4-for-20.

"I just look for something and try it," Oshie said. "I've been practicing shootouts since I was, I don't know, 10, so that's 20 years of working on something. Saw something tonight, went for it, and the puck found the back of net."

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It was a similar outcome to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when Oshie scored four times in the shootout -- including the game-winner -- as the United States defeated Russia and Bobrovsky in a preliminary round game.

"I don't know. I guess, maybe," Oshie said when asked if he had a book on Bobrovsky based on Sochi. "It's different every time."

Braden Holtby denied Cam Atkinson, Sam Gagner and Alexander Wennberg to seal the win for the Capitals (48-17-8), who remain alone atop the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of Pittsburgh (46-17-10), which lost in a shootout, and three clear of Columbus (47-19-7).

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"Winning in a shootout -- which we have not been good at all year -- Holtz was the guy and that was great," Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said. "That extra point might be huge, might be absolutely huge."

Washington improved to 2-5 in shootouts, while Columbus fell to 2-2. Holtby finished with 29 saves and picked up his first shootout win of the season.

Both teams had several chances to end it in a relentless 3-on-3 overtime.

"That was one of the more exciting ones this year," Columbus's Seth Jones said. "Just chances back and forth. Just near misses all over the place." Sergei Bobrovsky made a season-high 44 saves during regulation and the 3-on-3 overtime. It was his first loss after seven wins in the month of March.

Columbus, playing the second of back-to-backs, took the lead at the start of the third period.

During a scramble in front of Holtby, Brandon Dubinsky hit the post. The puck bounded out to Jones, who fired from the right circle through a screen and past a sprawling Holtby at 41 seconds.

"We need to play better minutes after we score that goal and we don't," Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said.

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Columbus failed to score on a power play, Washington finally got one past Bobrovsky on its 35th shot. After Justin Williams kept the puck in the zone, Marcus Johansson passed out to Dmitry Orlov at the point, and Orlov's high slapper beat Bobrovsky to the glove side at 6:39.

"What I liked about our response was, we didn't panic.," Trotz said. "We just elevated our game."

The Capitals later killed off a penalty incurred by Brett Connolly at 11:42 of the third.

Washington had several good chances in the first period, and outshot the Blue Jackets, but Bobrovsky kept the game scoreless.

"The past couple of games we've just been sloppy as far as where to put the puck. Trying to do too much in the neutral zone," Tortorella said. "When you're playing against a team like that, it puts you up against the wall. (Bobrovsky) gave us a chance and we found a way to steal a point I guess with Bob."

On the strength of three power plays, the Capitals built a 16-6 second-period shot advantage. However, they still couldn't get one past Bobrovsky, who made a great point-blank stop on Oshie during Washington's first power play.

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Holtby held up his end with an acrobatic sliding blocker save on Boone Jenner about six minutes into the period.

NOTES:

-- The Capitals are 30-6-2 at home and have earned a point in 24 of their past 26 home games.

-- Blue Jackets F Oliver Bjorkstrand, who was boarded by Toronto's Roman Polak during Wednesday's game, did not travel to Washington and was replaced by Scott Hartnell in the lineup. Polak, who received a five-minute major, was suspended by the NHL for two games.

-- D Ryan Murray, LW Lauri Korpikoski and D Scott Harrington were also scratched.

-- D Taylor Chorney and D Nate Schmidt did not dress for Washington.

-- Holtby has 38 victories on the season and is two shy of becoming the third goaltender in NHL history to string together as many as three straight 40-win campaigns.

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