How T.J. Oshie got on “SportsCenter” early Friday morning was easy: He scored three playoff goals against the Penguins, including the game-winner. That made him the first NHL player to record both an overtime game-winning goal and a hat trick in the same playoff game since Patrick Kane in 2013, and the third Capitals player to complete a postseason hat trick with an overtime winner (joining Nicklas Backstrom and Dino Ciccarelli).
“Who doesn’t like getting hat tricks?” Oshie asked after the game. “But like I said a little bit ago, this is team-goal time right now. Individual goals are great, I got a lot of congratulations from my teammates, but it’s still just one in the win column.”
How did his daughter wind up on “SportsCenter”? That’s a bit more complicated. Oshie’s wife, Lauren, had agreed to take over the Monumental Sports Instagram account in the run-up to Game 1. Her first post featured T.J. and daughter Lyla eating breakfast. And around that time, T.J. found a surprise outside their home.
“One of our neighbors left us a nice little poster,” T.J. told Lauren. The rolled-up poster, though, featured the Penguins logo.
“I guess the neighbor that ended up leaving it, she’s originally from Pittsburgh,” Lauren Oshie told me late Thursday night. “Actually I’ve never met her.”
What to do with this generous surprise? “My wife got a little clever with it when I wasn’t around,” T.J. said. Because Lauren Oshie needed Instagram content for Monumental, and her idea aligned well with one of young Lyla’s passions.
“Oh, what a perfect opportunity for Lyla,” Lauren recalled thinking. “She loves kicking things already, as it is.”
So Lauren set the poster up, and Lyla kicked it down, and Lauren had a splendid Instagram hit that pinged around social media Thursday afternoon. It would likely have ended there, except T.J. went on to have a hat trick. And so countless NHL fans — and at least one “SportsCenter” producer — thought to link Lyla’s fateful kick with her dad’s metaphorical kick to the Penguins’ gut. People, in conclusion, really liked that video.
“They really did,” Lauren agreed. “We thought it was funny ourselves, just because everything she does is amusing to us, but people really took to it.”
It’s probably worth noting that people have really taken to Oshie, as well. When I asked a front-office official about the right winger late Thursday, the first thing he mentioned wasn’t the hat trick, but instead Oshie’s fight with Flyers agitator Brayden Schenn in Game 5 of the Flyers series. The Caps would lose that game, and they probably don’t want their first-line winger throwing hands; it takes him off the ice, and it puts him at risk of injury. But it was “a huge statement to the team,” the official said, “and then he follows it up with this.”
“I think he’s been on for a while now,” Andre Burakovsky said. “He had a lot of chances, skating good, protecting the puck, made some really good plays. Just after his second goal, we just thought ‘He’s gonna get another one here, for sure.’ “
It’s not time to get too carried away just yet. Oshie faced a couple of questions Thursday night comparing his playoff hat trick to his Olympic star turn in Sochi; a Game 1 hat trick won’t be remembered quite as long, especially if the Caps don’t win this series. But for one night, at least, it was good enough to land both Oshie and his daughter on ESPN.
“Yeah, I don’t really get too hyped up about [being the hero]; I’m just excited we won,” he said. “It’s cool to get the hat trick and score the overtime winner, but we have team goals right now, not individual ones. … I was glad I was able to step up tonight. I’m sure it’s going to be a different guy a couple nights from now.”
After he talked to reporters and showered, Oshie headed to the family room, first pausing to chat with the daughter of anthem singer Caleb Green and take some photos. As T.J., Lauren and Lyla then headed for the parking garage, Lauren ended their night with one last Instagram post.