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Photo: @WashCaps

The Capitals would not be denied two points Saturday night. Minutes after Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying goal was washed out due to a questionable goalie interference ruling, Nicklas Backstrom scored literally in the game’s final second to force overtime against the Leafs.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Capitals have so many skill players, they’re bound to score at least one pretty goal a game. It happened again Friday against the Blue Jackets.

As Braden Holtby chucked a dump in around the boards, the puck turned to flubber and took a fortunate bounce right onto Alex Ovechkin’s stick. The first line then held a passing clinic in the Columbus Blue Jackets offensive zone.

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Photo: Perry Nelson

Things are going very well for the Washington Capitals. At 6-1-0, they lead the Metropolitan Division and are tied for the second most standing points in the league. Heading into Saturday night, several Caps were at or near the top of the league’s leaderboards.

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan should be swinging his pants around his head like a helicopter right now. Let’s recap.

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Caps fans know how important Nicklas Backstrom is to the team. For the last eight years, the Swedish center has set his teammates up for big goals (he is the cheese to Alex Ovechkin’s macaroni), yet he rarely gets the credit he deserves. Backstrom has never been selected for the NHL All-Star game, he was snubbed from NHL.com’s list of top-14 centers, and his virtual self isn’t even ranked as a top-10 center in EA Sport’s NHL16. Backstrom seems to fly under the radar.

In September, Yahoo Sports conducted a poll of 27 NHL players on a variety of topics. One of those topics: “Who is the Most Underrated Player in the NHL?” (Note: players could not vote for their own teammates.)

Leading the vote with 15 percent of responses? Nicklas Backstrom.

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Saturday night, Nicklas Backstrom returned from offseason hip surgery after missing three regular season games. He didn’t miss a beat. Nicky had a goal and two assists in the Capitals’ 4-1 win over Carolina. It was almost odd how seamlessly he jumped back into the lineup.

After the game, CSN Washington’s Al Koken asked Backstrom what his secret was.

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

After three long games, Nicklas Backstrom will return to the lineup after his hip surgery in late may. Last year’s NHL leader in assists will play on the second line alongside Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams. He was cleared for contact by his doctor on Monday.

“We actually decided this a couple of days ago,” Backstrom said Saturday. “I’ve been feeling good and no setbacks. I feel like I’ve been trying my best to get back as fast as possible with no rush. It’s been working out well. Hopefully, it’s gonna be a good one tonight.” Continue Reading

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After rejoining his teammates on the ice at the end of last month, Nicklas Backstrom continues to progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. On Wednesday, he took part in a full practice for the first time this season after being cleared for contact by his doctor on Monday afternoon. His return appears to be on the horizon.

“It’s probably gonna be day-to-day,” head coach Barry Trotz said when asked what Backstrom’s status was. “Obviously when a guy gets cleared it falls into a shorter time period. It also depends on how he feels once we bump him around a little bit and check him up.”

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom shed his baby blue non-contact practice jersey Monday morning. The Swede took rushes with the team’s second line, alternating in drills with Justin Williams, Andre Burakovsky, and Marcus Johansson. While the non-contact jersey is gone, Backstrom is still limited on the ice until he is cleared by doctors.

Backstrom will meet with the surgeon who operated on his hip this week, which will give the team a more accurate timeline on when he can return.

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Save for Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom is the best player on the Washington Capitals – and it’s been that way for some time. Seeing him on crutches, then, after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery in late May was an unwelcome sight for Caps fans. On Wednesday, after four months of recovery, Backstrom practiced with his teammates for the first time since the operation — albeit in a non-contact jersey. Still, the star center who didn’t miss a game last season is likely to miss this year’s opener, though the a quicker return that some feared.

“There’s no timetable,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said when asked when Backstrom might get back into game action or lose the non-contact jersey. “Whenever he’s ready, he’s ready. I consider Nick a franchise player and you never put a franchise player at risk. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. That will be determined by our medical staff, his doctor and more importantly, Nick himself.”

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CapsCanineCalendar_01

Photos: Amanda Bowen

On Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals celebrated all twelve months of the year with Homeward Trails’ Animal Rescue dogs for the 2015-16 Caps Canine Calendar. Each month had its own silly theme based on a season or holiday, with the players and dogs dressed accordingly.

Here’s a quick preview: Caps roomies Tom Wilson and Michael Latta celebrated Valentine’s Day by putting roses in their mouth for February; Braden Holtby wore a sombrero and poncho for Cinco de Mayo; and Karl Alzner dressed in a skin-tight skeleton costume with his dogs for Halloween in October.

January models Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson had problems. By the time the photographer was ready for them, the puppies they were carrying fell asleep in their arms. Adorable, but improvisation was needed. The New Years theme became “falling asleep before midnight.” After two rounds of throwing balloons, the crew tried popping confetti champagne bottles that startled the two pups awake in the middle of the take. The Swedes handled it well: with many puppy kisses.

After the main sets, the photographer did sessions with the player families that wanted their own set of photos. #SquadGoals.

Prepare yourself for enormous amounts of adorable. We can’t wait to buy this calendar.

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