During the Capitals second power play late in the second period Nicklas Backstrom looked through T.J. Oshie to see captain Alex Ovechkin positioned to score. Backstrom, knowing his puck needed to find Ovechkin’s stick, sent it sailing…right through Oshie’s legs.
“He saw through him or something” said team-mate Marcus Johansson, “that’s what he does, he’s the best passer in the league I think. So he finds those plays.”
— #StanleyCup Playoffs (@NHL) April 17, 2016
It was a one of a kind play requiring precision and focus — two qualities at which Backstrom excels. And it didn’t happen by accident either, Backstrom confirmed that yes, he sent it through Oshie’s legs on purpose, “it was the only lane open so I could hit Ovi’s sweet spot.”
But perhaps most surprised was Oshie. “Well right away I thought that he [Backstrom] was just going to pass to me and I was going to give it right back to him and we were going to kinda set up” said Oshie. “Once I saw it [the puck] go through my legs I probably didn’t have to turn around I had a feeling that he must be hitting Ovi on the back side for a goal. I think I hesitated for a second to turn around because I was kinda waiting for the horn.”
Backstrom’s assist set up Ovechkin for his first score of the series against the Flyers — straight from Ovechkin’s “office” — the faceoff circle on the left — where Ovi waits for the puck so he can unleash his lethal slapshot for the score. Saturday night’s goal lengthened the Capitals lead over the Flyers 3-1 and was a crucial momentum shifter in the game. “That’s just great hockey by those three players and that’s what the power play is about sometimes.” said defenseman John Carlson.
The soft-spoken Backstrom is a top-tier center who, during the regular season ranked seventh in the NHL for assists and reached the 50-assist plateau for the sixth time in his career. “It doesn’t surprise me anymore the stuff that Nicky can do” said Oshie, “he’s an elite passer and an elite player in our game so it’s fun being on the same line.”
By Stephanie Judge