A game that began with visceral emotions between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers ended with raw and powerful ones, as veteran Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie had one of the finest games of his career amid one of his life's saddest occasions.
Oshie had the fourth hat trick of his career on Wednesday night, scoring three times in the Capitals 4-2 victory over the Rangers. An accomplishment and contribution which was made all the more remarkable by Oshie's circumstances: On Tuesday, Oshie announced that his father Tim had died following a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.
Oshie scored the first three of the Capitals' four goals, scoring the first two on the power play before securing his hat trick with an empty-net goal early in the third period. Oshie was promptly surrounded by teammates before being overcome with emotion as he made his way to the bench.
Oshie's father had been a major influence on his career, and his battle against Alzheimer's was something that made the Capitals' Stanley Cup triumph in 2018 that much sweeter. In a memorable post-game interview, Oshie had tearfully made mention of his father's illness in illustrating how significant a Stanley Cup victory was.
"He doesn't remember a lot of stuff these days. He remembers enough," said Oshie at the time. "But I'll tell you what ... This one will stick with him forever. You can guarantee that."
Oshie's hat trick was a bright spot in a game that was marked early on by an especially pronounced sense of viciousness. After Capitals right wing Tom Wilson injured Artemi Panarin in a Monday night game, the two clubs immediately came out hot, starting a line brawl to begin the game before several other skirmishes broke out afterwards. Arguably the ugliest incident occurred in the second period when Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich struck Anthony Mantha of the Rangers with a cross-check to the head.
With their victory over the Rangers, the Capitals now have a very legitimate chance to win the East Division title, as they move into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the most points in the division (73 each) and have a game in hand over Pittsburgh. The Capitals close out the regular season with two games against the Philadelphia Flyers and one game against the Boston Bruins.