Nicklas Backstrom is without a doubt the best passer in franchise history. Yet it seems surprising that the unassuming Caps center is the third fastest active player (Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr) and the second fastest Swede (Peter Forsberg) to 500 assists. With Backstrom reaching the threshold Saturday night, I took a closer look at all of Nicky’s milestone assists.
Let’s begin with his first.
Nicklas Backstrom was already the Washington Capitals’ franchise leader in assists. On Saturday, Nicky registered his 500th career apple, making him the second-fastest Swede and the 139th player of all-time to reach that threshold (68 of those players are in the Hall of Fame).
The enormity of the moment was not lost on his teammates. After Oshie one-timed Backstrom’s pass into back of the net, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin celebrated, raising his arms with glee. As he approached his teammates’ goal hug, Ovechkin suddenly remembered Backstrom’s milestone and picked up the puck.
We know this because we found footage of that fateful moment from the overhead goal cam.
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was the hero Saturday night in Ottawa. Backstrom’s 500th career NHL assist would prove to be the difference maker in the Caps’ 1-0 victory over the Senators.
After the game, Backstrom posed with milestone puck along with the goalscorer, TJ Oshie, and the other assist man, Nate Schmidt.
Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre, Nicklas Backstrom registered his 500th career assist on TJ Oshie’s 13th goal of the season. The assist put the Caps up 1-0 against the Ottawa Senators early in the first period of the game.
One former teammate had a special message up for Nicky immediately after the milestone: Brooks Laich.
Saturday night’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals was billed as a sparkling goaltending matchup, featuring Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price for the Habs and Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby for the Caps. Unfortunately for Washington, Price sat idle in his net for large stretches of the game. The Capitals managed just 21 shots on goal in 60 minutes of play, losing 2-1 in regulation.
“We were close enough to get a point, but not good enough to win a hockey game,” head coach Barry Trotz told reporters after the game. The loss ended Washington’s six-game winning streak. The Capitals had scored at least three goals in each of those wins.
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had one of the best stretches of his career last week and the NHL has recognized his play.
Monday afternoon, the NHL announced Backstrom was the league’s third star of the week, placing behind first star Jeff Carter (four goals and two assists) and second star Cam Ward (3-0-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average, .964 save percentage). Backstrom led the league last week with eight points. He also scored four goals.
The Columbus Blue Jackets won their fourth straight game Sunday, but not it was not without controversy. Captain Nick Foligno drew a high-sticking penalty from Nicklas Backstrom with 1:34 left in the game. Alexander Wennberg would score the tie-breaking and game-winning goal on the resulting power play with under a minute remaining.
That result would have been easier to stomach for the Capitals if Backstrom’s penalty was a penalty. It wasn’t. Backstrom’s stick never touched Foligno.
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