Nicklas Backstrom has assisted on over a third of Alex Ovechkin’s 810 career goals in the NHL. Those 278 apples by Backstrom have won the Capitals a lot of games. They’ve also helped catapult Ovechkin deep into the history books.
But Backstrom, who was rehabbing from major offseason hip surgery, was not on the ice or on the scoresheet for the Capitals captain’s latest milestones in December. Ovechkin scored his 800th career goal with a hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks on December 13. Ten days later, Ovi tied and then passed Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time goals list after scoring twice against the Winnipeg Jets.
Others got to pose in the milestone goal puck photos. Fellow centerman Evgeny Kuznetsov even admitted that those pictures motivated him and made him jealous during Ovi’s past historic nights.
So it’d be understandable if Backstrom felt even the tiniest bit upset that he wasn’t The Guy passing the pill to Ovechkin those nights, but in an interview with DC101’s Elliot in the Morning, Backstrom said he was not.
“No, not at all,” Backstrom said. “I’m just happy for him that he reached it. Doesn’t matter. Obviously, guys that did pass it to him are probably proud of it but it’s no hard feelings for me.”
Backstrom said what would have upset him is if he hadn’t been in Chicago for Ovechkin’s 800th career goal. Backstrom and fellow injury rehabber, Tom Wilson, were allowed to travel with the team for the first time during the 2022-23 season, flying with the Capitals to Winnipeg and then Chicago to continue practicing with their teammates. Backstrom was grateful to be at United Center for that night.
“Yeah, that was incredible,” Backstrom said. “I would be really mad if we missed that one. That was awesome. Being part of that, watch it live, and be part of it in the locker room. It was unbelievable and I’m so happy for that dude.”
While Backstrom didn’t get to be in the official photo, the Swedish center did nab a personal photo in the locker room with Ovechkin while The Great Eight held his goal pucks.
“Over the years it’s been just surreal watching what Alex Ovechkin has done and I’m fortunate that I’ve had a front-row seat,” Backstrom wrote later in a guest post on NHL.com. “Although I’m recovering from hip surgery, I’m still watching closely and I’m super happy for him that he passed Gordie Howe for second in NHL history by scoring his 802nd goal. I know it means a lot to him, his entire family and for our organization.
“For us playing with him, it’s been like, “Oh, he reached 500 already. Wow. That’s perfect.” Then it’s another milestone after another. It’s kind of incredible that he’s reached 800.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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