After missing four games with an undisclosed “upper-body” injury, forward T.J. Oshie will return to the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.
“Everything feels good right now,” Oshie said. “As long as somehow something bad doesn’t happen on the way home, I think I should be good to go.”
It was in a game against the Flyers that Oshie absorbed several big hits that knocked him out for more than a week. He said this injury is unrelated to the shoulder injury he had earlier this season, and while Oshie was pushing to play sooner, Washington’s staff opted for caution with the team in a comfortable position in the standings.
Oshie is expected to skate as the top-line right wing with center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Alex Ovechkin. Oshie, who has 24 goals and 19 assists in 50 games this season, also plays on the top power-play unit, and Saturday’s game will be the first time seeing the power play with both Oshie and newly acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk there. Oshie and Shattenkirk were teammates in St. Louis.
“He’s a great player up there,” Oshie said. “I’m excited to go to battle with him tonight. It’s been a long time for me. He’s a great teammate, a fun guy to have on your team, so I’m excited to see No. 22 back there.”
>>> With Washington clinging to a 1-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils in the third period on Thursday night, forward Brett Connolly was assessed a slashing minor and then an additional one for unsportsmanlike conduct when he vehemently disagreed with referee Dan O’Halloran’s call. The Capitals were able to kill off a four-minute Devils power play, but that could’ve been costly for the team.
After the game, Coach Barry Trotz referred to the penalties as “unnecessary,” but said he hadn’t spoken to Connolly about them yet and would keep it between them, if he did. Connolly has the third-most minor penalties on the team with 18.
“I felt bad,” Connolly said. “I’m not a guy screaming at the refs all of the time. If I were to see Dan again, maybe apologize. You know, you just sometimes lose your cool in the heat of the moment. … It was good that our PK killed it off. I probably owe those guys a bunch of beers. I was sitting in there pretty nervous for four minutes.”
>>> The Flyers are just four points out of the second wild card spot, meaning Washington will be facing a desperate team on Saturday night. The Capitals are 2-0-1 against Philadelphia this season, and if the Flyers did creep into the second wild card spot, they’d likely play Washington in the first round.
“It will be a good game,” Trotz said. “Philly’s a traditional rival. We played them in the playoffs last year. I mean, they’re right there. … You’re going to get their absolute playoff mode best game, and that’ll be a good test for you because that hardens us. It gets us prepared for hopefully what’s ahead. This is my third year, and I have not been to a game where Philly and the Caps have not been a little bit nose to nose, so I think that’s a good thing.”
Here’s what the Capitals’ lineup is expected to look like against the Flyers:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Jakub Vrana
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Kevin Shattenkirk
Braden Holtby (starter)
Andre Burakovsky (hand)