While Tom Wilson’s latest questionable hit hogged all the headlines, Nicklas Backstrom quietly — as if there’s any other way he does things — had one of the best games of his career.
The Swedish center had four points, including his first hat trick since December 2014.
Alex Ovechkin, who has benefitted his entire career playing alongside the unselfish Backstrom, finally had an opportunity to return the favor. With 22 seconds left in the third period, Ovechkin passed up on an opportunity for an empty-net goal, instead dishing to Nicky for the hatty.
It was a wonderful moment.
Ovechkin eyed Backstrom all the way down the ice. The Russian machine hit the center with a tape-to-tape pass. Backstrom rocketed the puck past a sliding Taylor Hall.
Ovechkin was thrilled after Backstrom scored, raising his arms triumphantly in the air when he scored.
Backstrom flashed Ovechkin a huge smile as he approached the happy hockey hug.
Despite the goal being an empty-netter, Caps fans still showed their appreciation and threw a bunch of hats.
3:51 into the first period, Backstrom opened the scoring, one-timing a shot past Keith Kinkaid. Ovechkin slid the puck away from Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen just enough so Backstrom could get the shot off.
In the third period, Backstrom would add a five-on-three power-play goal. Gathering in a blocked shot, Backstrom took the open ice the Devils gave him and ripped a shot past a helpless Kinkaid.
“He’s the backbone of our team,” Braden Holtby said of Backstrom to NHL.com. “He shows up every game to play a complete game, defensively, offensively, [penalty kill], [power play]. He’s one of the best players in the game right now.”
The Capitals have won seven-straight games. Backstrom now leads the Capitals in points (32) and has seven in his last two games.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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