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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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Everything you need to know as Backstrom is declared out for Wednesday and Caps make flurry of roster moves

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Everything you need to know as Backstrom is declared out for Wednesday and Caps make flurry of roster moves

Dealing with a number of injuries and the possible suspension of Garnet Hathaway, the Capitals made a flurry of roster moves on Wednesday. Carl Hagelin was placed on LTIR and Nic Dowd was played on IR. Both players are dealing with an upper-body injury and acre considered day-to-day. Hagelin will be eligible to return to the roster on Dec. 2 and Dowd on Nov. 21. Goalie Vitek Vanecek was reassigned to Hershey. The resulting cap space allowed the team to recall forward Beck Malenstyn, Mike Sgarbossa, defenseman Tyler Lewington and goalie Ilya Samsonov, which the team announced earlier on Wednesday.

In addition, it was announced that Nicklas Backstrom will not play Wednesday against the New York Rangers. due to an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day and remains on the active roster.

The team continues to insist both Hagelin and Dowd are day-to-day, but they had no choice but to place one of them on LTIR in order to get enough cap room to call in some reinforcements. The team does not get relief from Dowd going to IR other than an extra roster spot, nor will Hathaway's salary come off the books if he is indeed suspended.

It was clear from the start that calling up Vanecek was a temporary move and that the team wanted to get back Samsonov as quickly as possible. These moves allowed them the cap space to do so. It also allowed them the cap space to recall a seventh defenseman in case of injury, hence the Tyler Lewington move. The salary cap gymnastics the team had to go through last week show why keeping the bare minimum number of players on the roster can quickly turn into a problem. With all the injuries upfront, however, and the possible Hathaway suspension, the bare minimum may be exactly what the Caps will be left with in terms of forwards.

With no Backstrom, Hagelin or Dowd, we are going to see some line shuffling at the morning skate in preparation for Wednesday's game against the New York Rangers (8 p.m., NBCSN). Lars Eller will move up to the second line with Backstrom out and both Sgarboss and Malenstyn will be inserted into the bottom six. If this is in fact what happens, then Wednesday will be Malenstyn's first career NHL game. He clearly caught the eye of head coach Todd Reirden in the preseason with his strong play.

No announcement has yet been made regarding Hathaway's suspension.

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How to Watch Capitals at Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

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How to Watch Capitals at Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

Washington trounced Anaheim on Monday, with its 5-2 victory. Now, the Capitals head up to New York's Madison Square Garden for a Wednesday Night Rivalry Night against the Rangers. 

With Washington leading the all-time series record, and veteran defenseman John Carlson having a career season (including a seven-game point streak), New York better be ready for a challenge.

Here is everything you need to know about the rivalry night matchup, including how to watch.

CAPITALS at RANGERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, Game 24 of the 2019-2020 NHL Regular Season

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals at Rangers game will be broadcast on NBCSN (Channel Finder Link)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Rangers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at RANGERS TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

7:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

8:00 PM: Capitals at Rangers (NBCSN)

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

11:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

CAPITALS at RANGERS INJURY REPORT

Capitals:

Carl Hagelin, upper body, day-to-day

Nic Dowd, upper body, day-to-day

Rangers:

Marc Staal, ankle, week-to-week

Mika Zibanejad, upper body, day-to-day

CAPITALS at RANGERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

John Carlson, D, Capitals (8G, 27A, 35 Pts): Back in October, when the Caps and Rangers first met this season, Carlson put up a team-high three points. Now, the defenseman has a seven-game point streak and is tied for the third-most points in the league (35).

Artemi Panarin, C, Rangers (9 G, 14A, 23 Pts): Since joining the Rangers as a free agent this summer, Panarin has shown his offensive prowess and now leads New York in goals (9). He also has nine points in the Rangers' last five games, though he's only scored twice in that period.  

Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals (15G, 10A, 25Pts): An offensive powerhouse for Washington, the captain is once again providing numbers up front. Ovechkin also has six goals and five assists over the Capitals' last 10 games. 

CAPITALS at RANGERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 273 (55 postseason)

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead 131-117-18

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead 103-90-18

Playoff Record: Capitals lead 28-27

Last Meeting: Caps win 5-2 (10/18/19)

Last 10: Capitals lead 9-1

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