With Nicklas Backstrom recently scoring his 200th career goal, it’s time to look back on other milestones in his career. While Backstrom, as a playmaking center, is more notable for his playmaking abilities than for his goal-scoring, scoring 200 goals is a great achievement. At this point in his career (all with the Capitals), he ranks first on the career list for the team in assists with 569 and fifth in goals with exactly 200.
Goal #1: November 8, 2007 — Capitals @ Ottawa Senators
As a rookie, Nicklas Backstrom had been goalless in the first fifteen games of his career. Then-Head Coach Glen Hanlon had played Backstrom as winger for most of the early season games so that there would be less pressure in adapting to the North American game, as wingers have less responsibilities on both ends of the ice. But on November 6, Hanlon switched him back to his natural position of center due to injuries and to try to spark more offense for the team. He looked good in that game, although he did not score.
On November 8, he finally scored. The Caps were playing the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place (now Canadian Tire Center). During a Capitals’ power play, Backstrom crashed the net, fought off the Senators’ Chris Kelly and whacked the puck past Senators goalie Ray Emery to score the team’s second goal. The Caps ended up winning the game 4-1. The win was considered an upset win as, at the time, the Senators had the best record in the Eastern Conference and had been riding an eight-game winning streak.
The next day after practice, Backstrom said, smiling “It was a dirty goal, but it counts. It was a very important goal in the game. So I’m glad I scored it.”
Goal #50: December 23, 2009 — Capitals vs Buffalo Sabres
The Caps were playing at home against the Buffalo Sabres when Backstrom opened the scoring just over a minute into the game. Moments after Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller robbed him, Backstrom scored on a give-and-go with Alex Ovechkin, also assisted by Alexander Semin. This goal was Backstrom’s 13th goal of the season and was also No. 50 for his career.
Backstrom scored his second goal of the game nearly 11 minutes into the third period. At the time, the Caps were clinging to a 3-2 lead but were on a 5-on-3 power play. Backstrom fired a crossing pass from Semin past Miller from a tight angle. He also got an assist from Ovechkin. The final score for the game was 5-2.
Post-game, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Backstrom, “He’s shooting the puck. He’s got a good shot and it’s sneaky quick. We’ve been asking him for a long time now to shoot more.”
Backstrom said jokingly after the game, “Alex and Alex are passing me the puck a little bit more.” Then he turned serious, “I’m trying to find better spots, so maybe that’s the reason. Bruce told me I have to shoot more, so I’m trying to do that.”
These two goals gave Backstrom 10 goals in his last 11 games to put him at 14 goals overall. He had scored just four goals for the season until catching fire beginning on November 30.
Goal #100: December 30, 2011 — Capitals vs Buffalo Sabres
Two years plus another week after Backstrom’s 50-goal milestone, the Capitals were once again playing the Sabres at home, on December 30, 2011. Up to that point in the season, the Caps had not done well against the Sabres, having lost to them twice already, including a loss in Buffalo just four days before. Fortunately, this game went better for the Captials with Ovechkin scoring a power play goal less than two minutes into the contest. Backstrom scored his 13th goal of the year and goal No. 100 of his career just under four minutes into the second period. Ovechkin skated into the offensive zone, passed to the left wall where defenseman Roman Hamrlik then passed to Semin, who then passed to Backstrom who shot and scored. The Caps were now up 2-0. The Sabres scored later in the period to narrow the gap but Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game, getting assists from Backstrom and Semin to give the Caps an insurance goal. The final score was 3-1 in favor of the Caps. This was the Caps’ second consecutive win.
Goal #150: November 7, 2015 — Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs
The Caps were playing the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena). The game was most notable for Ovechkin tying Sergei Fedorov’s record for most NHL goals by a Russian-born player early in the second period. This goal tied up the game at one goal apiece. The Maple Leafs scored about halfway through the third period to pull ahead a 2-1. At just over two and a half minutes to go in regulation, it appeared Ovechkin had gotten the game-tying goal, but the goal was overturned due to a coach’s challenge for being offsides. This goal would have tied the game and would also have broken Fedorov’s record. However, Backstrom ended up tying the game with less than a second to go in the game. This goal was the 150th goal in his career. The Caps went on to win the game 3-2 in a shootout.
Goal #200: February 6, 2018 — Capitals against Columbus Blue Jackets
Since then, he steadily moved up the career goal scoring ladder for the Caps. He started the season tied with Bobby Carpenter in career goals at 188. During the course of this season, he passed Carpenter and several other players in career goals, including Dave Christian, Bengt Gustafsson, and Alexander Semin.
On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Backstrom got his 200th goal, scoring with 42 seconds left against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Backstrom, once again, displayed his ability to score in clutch situations.
Capitals Beat Blue Jackets 3-2, Backstrom’s 200th NHL Goal is Game Winner
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Capitals Shake the Blues, 4-3 (OT), Nicklas Backstrom Wins It In Overtime