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Sweet return to St. Louis for Capitals' Oshie

High-flying forward faces Blues for first time since trade

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- When T.J. Oshie returns to St. Louis on Saturday, he'll feel like a bigger piece of the Washington Capitals' offense than he ever was with the Blues.

In his first season with the Capitals, Oshie has gotten to play on a line with Alex Ovechkin, the League's leading goal-scorer with 47, and elite center Nicklas Backstrom. Oshie, a right wing, has 26 goals, the second time he has topped 20 goals in his eight-season career.

Oshie will play against the Blues on Saturday in St. Louis (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-DC, FS-MW) for the first time since being traded to the Capitals on July 2 for forward Troy Brouwer, goaltender Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Video: NYI@WSH: Oshie's close-range blast gives Caps lead

Both teams are enjoying life at the top of their respective conferences. The Capitals already have secured home ice for as long as they last in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues are still playing for the top seed in the Western Conference.

"You always want to go back when you get traded and play well against your previous team," Oshie said, "so it'll be a little weird to be on the visitors' bench, but I want to go in there and have a good game.

"You obviously want to do better than they do, and kind of want to show them what you could have done or maybe what you should have done while you were there."

Oshie clearly has done well this season, and he credits that to playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom, along with an increased offensive role.

"There's a bunch of great players playing around me," Oshie said. "I think that's the first thing that sticks out. I'm in more of a scoring position on the power play here, whereas there I was more of a decoy, almost, in the middle there.

"I've been freed up a little bit offensively, I think mentally, just coming to a new place, and I've been able to show a different coach what I can do."

Selected by St. Louis in the first round (No. 24) of the 2005 NHL Draft, Oshie scored 310 (110 goals, 200 assists) in 443 games with the Blues.

His 26 goals this season are the most by a Capitals player not named Ovechkin since 2010-11, when Alexander Semin scored 28.

For the fourth time in his career, Oshie has scored at least 50 points in a season.

His talent and enthusiasm for the game have not gone unnoticed in Washington. In January, Ovechkin called Oshie one of the Capitals' most skilled players.

"He comes to the rink with a tremendous amount of joy, [he] loves to play," coach Barry Trotz said. "I knew he had a really good skill level, but his skill level is a lot higher than I even thought. He's fit in seamlessly with the guys."

Though Washington is now where Oshie calls home, St. Louis always will hold a special place in his heart, and he's thankful for all of his experiences there.

"It's been a big year," Oshie said. "This team, we've gone through a lot of stuff together and I think once you get those experiences, you get those wins, you get those good feelings, you kind of shift over and D.C. becomes your new home."

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