WASHINGTON (AP) — T.J. Oshie got to hear his goal song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” three times as he fittingly recorded a hat trick on the Washington Capitals’ country music night.
Some of those chapeaus that ended up on the ice in celebration were actually cowboy hats, too.
“It’s crazy how that worked out,” he said.
Crazy how hot Oshie has gotten lately, too, and just in time to pace an offensive outburst. The Capitals beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Thursday night for a second consecutive victory, scoring more than four in a game for just the second time this season.
“Yeah, finally,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s way more fun to play that way.”
Oshie, who played his first seven NHL seasons with the Blues before being traded to Washington in 2015, has been on a roll since returning from injury Jan. 11. After scoring twice on the power play and adding an empty-netter with 19.5 seconds left, he has five goals in his past four games after scoring just two in his first 21 this season.
“Even at this point in my career, to get that recognition is super cool,” Oshie said after his sixth career hat trick and first since Oct. 25, 2021. “The fans here really my whole career here, St. Louis, college and Warroad (Minnesota) before that have always been so generous and so supportive of me, so I appreciate them losing a couple bucks and throwing some hats out there.”
Dylan Strome also scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season and had an assist. Max Pacioretty assisted on Oshie’s first two goals to give him his first multipoint game since making his Capitals debut Jan. 3.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel also scored, banking the puck in off St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk and past helpless goaltender Jordan Binnington.
“It actually bounced up off the ice and hit me in, like, the ankle,” Faulk said. “Obviously, I’m not trying to redirect it. I was just trying to get it to stop in my feet and make the play out, and it just ricocheted off pretty good.”
At the other end of the ice, Charlie Lindgren made 18 saves against one of his former teams to improve to 9-4-3 this season. He has stopped 71 of the last 77 shots he’s faced over three starts since returning from a two-week injury absence.
Ovechkin returned after missing the past three games with a lower-body injury. He assisted on Strome’s goal 34 seconds into the third period.
“I feel pretty good,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously, first couple touches was kind of weird, but I kind of dust it off my shoulders and feel the puck, feel the game, feel the rhythm.”
Former Capitals forward Nathan Walker scored twice, and Binnington stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced in defeat.
The Blues have lost three in a row and four of five since making a run under interim coach Drew Bannister. They’re now 8-6-1 since firing 2019 Stanley Cup winner Craig Berube and promoting Bannister from the minors, and they’ve scored two or fewer goals in 23 games this season.
“Sometimes I think we’re trying to do too much with the puck, and we haven’t been scoring a lot of goals, so guys probably are feeling it a little bit more and forcing it,” Faulk said. “When you’re not scoring, you try a little harder and you probably grip your stick.”
These teams meet again Saturday night in St. Louis, the start of a four-game Western Conference trip for the Capitals.
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