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T.J. Oshie brings back Sochi Olympic memories

Capitals forward scores shootout goal against Sergei Bobrovsky of Blue Jackets in Washington victory

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Dmitry Orlov doesn't have to worry. Sergei Bobrovsky said they're still on for Christmas next season.

But T.J. Oshie probably will remain off Bobrovsky's Christmas card list.

Bobrovsky had done everything he could to steal a win for the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center on Thursday, making a season-high 44 saves.

In the end, he was done in by an old friend and an old nemesis in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals.

Orlov, the old friend who has celebrated Christmas with Bobrovsky the past two years, scored the tying goal 6:39 into the third period. Oshie, Bobrovsky's old nemesis, scored the only goal in the shootout to help the Capitals solidify their hold on first place in the Metropolitan Division, Eastern Conference and League standings.

Video: CBJ@WSH: Oshie scores the winner in the shootout

The Blue Jackets, who earned one point for the shootout loss, are in third place in the division with 101 points, three behind the Capitals. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, are in second place with 102 points.

All three have nine regular-season games remaining.

"When you've got a team chasing you, you want to put whatever distance you can," Oshie said. "Couldn't do it in regulation, so glad we could do it in the shootout there."

Of course, Oshie became a national hero at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after he scored four times on six attempts against Bobrovsky in the United States' eight-round shootout victory against host Russia in the preliminary round. Under international hockey rules in the shootout, the same shooter can take repeated attempts after the third round.

That's not the case in the NHL, but Oshie showed he still has Bobrovsky's number by beating him between the pads on the Capitals first attempt in the tiebreaker. Oshie also went five-hole on three of his shootout goals against Bobrovsky in Sochi.

"My original plan wasn't to go five-hole and I just thought I saw something and kind of made a decision and found the back of the net," Oshie said. "Felt pretty fortunate. Luckily that's the only one we needed because [Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby] shut the door on the other end."

Holtby stopped all three shooters to get his first win in the shootout in six games this season. That left Bobrovsky to answer more questions about Oshie.

"He's a skilled guy on the shootouts, obviously," Bobrovsky said. "He beat me again."

No one on the Blue Jackets was blaming Bobrovsky. He was the main reason they even got to the shootout.

The Capitals controlled play for much of the first two periods, outshooting the Blue Jackets 31-17, but the score remained 0-0. The Blue Jackets were coming off a 5-2 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and had trouble finding their skating legs against the Capitals, who had the day off Wednesday. 

"We knew Bob kept us in it," Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said. "They dominated most of the play in the first two periods, to be honest, and we knew that, and Bob gave us a shot to win, a shot at a point, and that's what he did. He does that every night for us."

Although many teams shy away from admitting it, the Blue Jackets haven't hidden that they want to win the Presidents' Trophy. This season that would not only mean home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs but also avoiding playing the reigning Stanley Cup champion Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Knowing what was at stake against the Capitals, the Blue Jackets summoned the energy to make a push at the start of the third period, and it paid off 41 seconds in when Jones finished off a scramble by beating Holtby from the right circle. The way Bobrovsky was playing, it appeared Jones' goal might be enough to get the win.

But Orlov and the Capitals had other ideas. Orlov and Bobrovsky, who are both from Novokuznetsk, Russia, are close friends and often train together in the offseason. 

Last season, they spent Christmas with St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko at Tarasenko's home in St. Louis. For the holiday this season, Bobrovsky hosted Orlov, Tarasenko and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Alex Marchenko and their families at his home in Columbus.

"We're from same hometown, we're friends and it's always fun to see him, but when we're on the ice we're not friends," Orlov said. "We play hard."

After taking a pass from Marcus Johansson, Orlov blasted a straight-on point shot over the glove of a screened Bobrovsky to tie the game. When he saw the puck go in, Orlov turned away from the net, dropped to one knee and emphatically pumped his fist.

Video: CBJ@WSH: Orlov nets scorching slapper through traffic

It was the first time in his career he had scored on his friend and his celebration demonstrated what that meant to him. 

"It's nice," Orlov said. "We tied the game. It's good for us and good I got lucky. [Johansson] made a nice pass for me and I had time to shoot. I just needed to get the puck through traffic and this time it goes in."

Bobrovsky said he never saw Orlov's shot. After the game, he was already thinking ahead to Saturday, when the Blue Jackets host the Philadelphia Flyers (2 p.m. ET; NHL Network, SN1, FS-O, NHL.TV). The Blue Jackets will also get another shot at the Capitals then they visit Columbus on April 2.

The Capitals and Blue Jackets have already clinched playoff berths and could end up facing each other again then, too. With everything that's gone on this season, Orlov wasn't sure if Bobrovsky would want to spend Christmas with him again next season. 

But Bobrovsky is all for it. 

"Why not?" he asked. "We're enemies on the ice, but not off the ice."

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