Nicklas Backstrom has made a career out of being one of the top setup men in the NHL and he made history on Saturday as he reached assist No. 500 of his career off of a T.J. Oshie goal in the first period. He is the first player in franchise history and just the 10th Swedish-born player in the NHL history to reach that mark.
Less than two minutes into Saturday's game against the Ottawa Senators, Backstrom skate the puck into the offensize zone and backhanded a pass to Oshie. Oshie hit a one-timer to the top corner of the net that beat goalie Mike Condon, giving Backstrom the primary assist.
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You can watch the play in the video above.
The Gavle, Sweden native is the first player from the 2006 draft class to reach 500 assists. It took him just 691games to reach 500, making him the second-fastest to do so among all Swedish players behind only Peter Forsberg (551 GP) and the third-fastest to do so among active players behind Sidney Crosby (554 GP) and Jaromir Jagr (642 GP).
Backstrom currently leads the Caps in points in the 2016-17 season with 32 points. Saturday's assist was Backstrom's 23rd of the campaign.
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The Capitals had an off day on Sunday ahead of their Monday matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, giving the opportunity for Alex Ovechkin to spend some time with his son.
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ARLINGTON, Va -- The Capitals are riding a six-game win streak and already have the most points in the NHL and now they will be adding one of their best players back into the lineup. Nicklas Backstrom said Sunday after practice that he is "ready to go" for Monday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be his first game since Nov. 18.
An upper-body injury forced Backstrom out of the lineup for the last eight games. Despite returning to practice during the team's road trip through California, he did not get into a game as the team preached caution with its star center. As the team returned home, Backstrom took line rushes on Sunday and both he and head coach Todd Reirden confirmed he would be back in for Monday's game.
"It was good to see him out there in full practice," Reirden said. "Did some drills specifically to help prepare him for tomorrow. He's good to go for tomorrow."
Backstrom said he knew when he woke up on Sunday that he was ready.
"As of today I'm good to go," he said. "I woke up and felt good. It's like that guy in 'Mighty Ducks,' I woke up, no pain."
It does not appear as if Backstrom will be eased back into the lineup as he skated on the top line in practice alongside Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson. Evgeny Kuznetsov had been playing in that spot, but the top line had grown stagnant. Ovechkin, Wilson and Kuznetsov combined for only one even-strength point in the past three games.
Barring something unexpected, the return of Backstrom should give the Caps their full lineup for the first time all season. Considering what the team has been able to accomplish thus far while having to shuffle the lineup because of injuries and suspensions, this has been an impressive start.
"I think that shows the depth that we have all the way through our lineup: forward, defenseman and our goaltending has been strong," Reirden said. "I think it's a clear understanding that it's a competitive situation that we've had since training camp that players are ready to take advantage of their opportunities that they get and they know that they need to otherwise there's a chance they could find themselves on the outside. The inner-competition we've had has probably helped push that a little bit. That's been a good problem to have, and it's allowed us to see some other players get opportunities and showcase some of the abilities they have."
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