The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Why did T.J. Oshie go after Brayden Schenn? He was first on the ice, of course.

Schenn and Oshie dropped gloves just seconds after the initial faceoff in Game 5. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
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It was clear the Capitals didn’t take Brayden Schenn’s cross-check on Evgeny Kuznetsov in Game 4 lightly: Tom Wilson called the incident “motivation,” and Washington Coach Barry Trotz talked to the series officials’ supervisor about the “dangerous” play. Still, fans were a little caught off guard when the Capitals’ retaliation came less than a minute after the initial faceoff in Friday’s Game 5 at the Verizon Center — and from T. J. Oshie, of all people.

It took all of 10 seconds for Oshie, who per hockeyfights.com had just four career fights on his card heading into this brawl, to ditch his gloves and go after Schenn. Oshie and Schenn were each handed a five-minute major penalty.

Oshie preferred to let his fists do the talking, and didn’t have much to add after the game. (Schenn fought three times during the regular season, but Saturday was his first postseason scuffle.)

“We were really unhappy with a play that [Schenn] made on Kuzy last game, so,” Oshie said. “Had to be done.”

But why Oshie, who’s only other fight in a Capitals uniform was in October, during preseason?

“Why not?” he responded. “First one out there.”

At least this time Oshie was going up against someone his size. His preseason fight was against Boston’s Adam McQuaid, who has at least 20 pounds and a good 5 inches on Oshie. Trotz has said that was the tussle that earned the newly minted Capital some respect from his teammates, and that Oshie stepping up for this fight was just as meaningful.

[From preseason: T.J. Oshie fights Boston’s Adam McQuaid, which Barry Trotz called a ‘mismatch’]

“Osh is an all-in guy,” Trotz said. “Obviously, him and Schenn had a date or something because they started that off pretty quick. But yeah, I love when your top players step up and say, ‘You know what, we’re in.’ And he did, and I know everybody in the locker room – there’s a lot of honor in that, when a guy steps up for someone else.”

Karl Alzner said the fight gave Washington a little extra spark at the beginning of the game. 

“It was amazing. It definitely lights a fire under you,” Alzner said. “We weren’t expecting that. I think the team was already pretty fired up to play this game and then to see that – not just a grappling match, but just throwing them – is a fun way to get everyone going.”

“I guess they were talking before the puck dropped. I have no idea what they were saying exactly, but it was good to see Osh do that.”

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