Capitals

Nicklas Backstrom returns to lineup, tallies assist on record-tying goal

Capitals

It felt fitting that, for Nicklas Backstrom’s first point of the 2021-22 season, he helped Alex Ovechkin tie an NHL record. 

With a powerplay goal in the second period of Wednesday's game against the Blackhawks, Ovechkin tied the all-time record for powerplay goals (274) in NHL history. One of the two assists on the goal came from Backstrom. 

Sixty-four days after the season began in Washington, the Capitals got Backstrom in the lineup once again after he missed the first 28 games while recovering from a hip injury. Backstrom’s last game was on May 23 against the Bruins during the playoffs last season. 

Despite the 5-4 overtime loss in Chicago, it was certainly a welcome sign for the Capitals to get Backstrom back into the lineup.

He spent the summer rehabbing and didn’t begin practicing with the team until late November. With a hip injury that was tricky to navigate, the Capitals wanted to be as cautious as possible before inserting the 34-year-old into the lineup. 

And in his first action of the season, Backstrom didn’t get much of an acclimation period. He played 18:14 and was 7-of-15 in the faceoff circle, with his lone point coming on Ovechkin’s tally in the second period. 

Backstrom played on a line primarily with Conor Sheary and T.J. Oshie, as fellow center Evgeny Kuznetsov was put in COVID protocol earlier in the day. And as a trio, the team’s second line was dominant. 

They held 78.57% of the five-on-five shot attempts, per Natural Stat Trick, and produced five shots compared to just two allowed. They also produced six scoring chances for and allowed just two, although the Blackhawks found the back of the net on one of their few shots with Backstrom on the ice. 

 

Still, it was a strong night for Backstrom who didn’t look out of place at even strength and who helped the team’s captain further etch his name into history. And just like so many times throughout the years, Backstrom was involved in how Ovechkin did it.