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Backstrom ends goal drought much to the delight of his teammates

Backstrom ends goal drought much to the delight of his teammates

Nicklas Backstrom is not really known as a goal-scorer. In fact, he has made a career out of setting up his linemates for goals and is one of the best in the world at it. But Backstrom has certainly been able to find the back of the net plenty of times in his career, but not lately.

Backstrom scored the first goal of the game in Wednesday's 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, but it was also a significant goal for him as well as it snapped a 21-game goal drought for the veteran center.

"Obviously it's nice to score, but I haven't really been thinking about it too much," Backstrom said following the game. "... As a hockey player you always want to score, right?"

That had to have made the last few weeks a frustrating time for Backstrom.

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At 21 games without a goal, this season's streak is tied for the second-longest of his career. It is only the third time he has ever gone more than 20 games without denting the twine.

Head coach Barry Trotz hoped to spark the team's offense when he moved Backstrom back onto a line with Alex Ovechkin. The move worked as in the six games prior to Wednesday, Backstrom recorded five points. The only problem was that all five of those points were assists.

"He's not just focused on scoring," Trotz said. "He's focused on checking the right way, he's focused on making plays, winning battles, all those other things, winning faceoffs. Whatever it is that he needs to do to add to our game even though he's not scoring."

As one of the team's top offensive players, however, the Caps need him to produce goals as well.

But it was not solely team success that was on the mind of his linemates.

"[Ovechkin] and I were kind of talking about that in the bagel room before the game," Tom Wilson said, "It would be nice to see 19 put one in the back of the net and he did. He's one of the best teammates and great character guy."

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"It was good Nicky got the first one," Trotz said. "I don't think there's anybody on our bench that wasn't happy he got it. It's got to be a sense of relief."

How much relief did Backstrom feel after avoiding a new career-high goalless drought? He'll never tell. Ever the team player, Backstrom said he was happier with the win than with the goal.

"It feels good, but the most important thing is that we won and we played good hockey."

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Game 34: Capitals vs. Ducks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 34: Capitals vs. Ducks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Anaheim Ducks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Ducks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Ducks game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-DUCKS GAME?

The Capitals (20-12-1) take on the Ducks (14-11-7) Saturday, December 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-DUCKS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 7:00 p.m. followed by Capitals GameTime at 7:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra, Caps Overtime at 11:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 12 a.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

7:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Ducks
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
12:00 a.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-DUCKS GAME?

The Capitals-Ducks game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR CAPITALS-DUCKS?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Alex Chiasson
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - John Carlson
Christian Djoos - Madison Bowey

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: T.J. Oshie (upper-body injury), Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-DUCKS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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When will T.J. Oshie return to the Caps' lineup?

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When will T.J. Oshie return to the Caps' lineup?

T.J. Oshie will miss a sixth straight game when Washington hosts Anaheim on Saturday night.

The Caps’ star winger, however, continues to make progress in his recovery from the upper body injury he suffered Dec. 4 against San Jose.

On Friday, he joined his teammates for the first half of practice while wearing a non-contact jersey. He left the ice, though, once the more vigorous work began.

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Coach Barry Trotz said Oshie’s early departure was planned.

“He skated today [but] until he does a full practice he will not play,” Trotz said. “He’s going through the protocols and all that.”

The Caps are not scheduled to practice on Sunday so the next opportunity for Oshie to complete a full session will be on Monday morning prior to the team leaving for a three-game road trip that will make stops in Dallas, Arizona and Las Vegas.

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST

Assuming Oshie receives medical clearance in the coming days and there are no further injuries, Trotz will have a tough choice to make once No. 77 is ready. Someone has to come out. But who? Chandler Stephenson? Devante Smith-Pelly? Someone else?

“That’s what you want; you want internal competition,” Trotz said. “I don’t know who would come out yet when T.J. does come in. But they’ll let me know.”