Despite loss, Backstrom's 1,000th game still a day to remember

Nicklas Backstrom and Brian MacLellan

It is rare when the results are not the biggest story from a game, but that was the case on Thursday. The Capitals lost 5-2 to the Buffalo Sabres, one of the worst teams in the NHL, but the results were very much secondary to the events of the day in which Nicklas Backstrom was honored for his 1,000th NHL game.

Backstrom recorded one assist in the loss, but the team pulled out all the stops to honor him for his milestone.

"It's not easy to get to 1,000 games," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's the mark of longevity, of doing things the right way and playing the game the right way. He's been such a valuable, important piece for this organization for so many years and to take a minute and honor him for what he's done and what he's accomplished I think was important."

As the players arrived at Capital One Arena, they all wore N1KY shirts to honor Backstrom and walked past cutouts of Backstrom lining the wall to the locker room. For warmups, the players came onto the ice all wearing No. 19 on their jerseys with their own nameplates. They then lined up with their sticks raised creating a tunnel for Backstrom to skate through onto the ice.

The festivities continued just prior to the game as a video tribute played featuring several of Backstrom's past and current teammates, including Olie Kolzig, Braden Holtby, Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin.

The video also included a message from Backstrom's family. His son Vince stole the show saying, "You are my hero and I love you so much."


Backstrom was then awarded a silver stick by general manager Brian MacLellan and gifted a golf trip to any course in the world from his teammates.

"He deserves all the praise," Lars Eller said. "We keep saying it all the time, but it’s a privilege to play along with him and be part of this organization for all of us. I’m very happy for him. I would say it’s a great accomplishment.”

Backstrom has played his entire career with Alex Ovechkin and, as a result, has found himself overshadowed by the Great 8. It's not easy trying to make a name for yourself while playing alongside one of the all-time greats, but Backstrom is a great player in his own right, one of the best to ever play for the franchise. He is also just the second player in franchise history to play 1,000 games all with the Caps.

Because of the way in which Backstrom can be overshadowed and underrated, that made Thursday feel all the more important. The spotlight was on him. It was his for the day and nothing was going to overshadow him that day, and so the team pulled out all the stops to show just how much he means to the organization and to his teammates.

It just stinks that they couldn't also get the win for him.

"Once we get away from this, I don’t think we’re going to remember the loss particularly," Eller said. "We’ll remember all the other stuff we had fun with and the ceremony and all the other stuff that went on today, I think. At the end of the day, we’ll remember that more than the loss."