December 15, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 59 Recap: Backstrom, Caps fly to first-class victory over Jets

Five tripping penalties by the Winnipeg Jets, four goals against Ondrej Pavelec, three points from Nicklas Backstrom and two first-period goals led the way to one solid win for the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at Verizon Center.

A pretty calm start for both teams led the way to a pair of goals in the last six minutes of the third. John Carlson opened the scoring, with a seemingly deflcted shot from the point with traffic in front off Pavelec. Ovechkin turned not only Pavelec, but the entire Winnipeg backcheck, inside-out with his league-leading 38th goal, with less than two minutes left in the period.

“Right now, in this kind of moment of the season, you look at different teams and you just have to play to get points,” Ovechkin said. “Every point right now is a very important point and we have to show the best game. All the guys have to sacrifice their body and play well. [Tonight] was great. It was the plan, to make a push. Since the first drop of the puck, from the first face off, all the lines play well, everybody does their job, and that’s why we get success.”

The Jets scored their lone goal a little after the halfway mark of the second, as the puck deflected off a couple of Capitals and past Braden Holtby, who stopped 19 shots on the night. Backstrom’s two goals came 2:47 apart, both on the power play after a flurry of tripping penalties by Winnipeg.

On the first, he took a feed at the right point from Mike Green and fired a wrister past a helpless Pavelec. Right before that goal, the Jets were victims of a delayed penalty call; Tyler Myers was cited for tripping Troy Brouwer. A 4-on-1 rush on the ensuing man-advantage led to a tic-tac-toe set, as Marcus Johansson, Ovechkin and Backstrom played catch until Backstrom fired it past the Jets’ helpless goalkeeper.

“I thought we managed the game really well,” coach Barry Trotz said. “In the third period, you’re up 4-1, you could easily forget detail, and you could forget a lot of stuff. We managed the game. We just kept playing, and it gets really frustrating for the other team. Everybody was doing their job, and when you’re doing your job and there’s no cheat in your game you get a lot done as a group of 20 every night.”

Brouwer sealed the deal with 6:27 to go in the third, as he scored on an empty Winnipeg net, shorthanded, from more than 150 feet away.

Notes and observations:

  • Top-line scoring was the ultimate key to the win, with four goals and five points coming from Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson; Andre Burakovsky and Brooks Orpik did not pick up a point.
  • Backstrom passed Bengt Gustafsson and Dale Hunter for sixth and fifth, respectively, on the Capitals’ all-time franchise point list.
  • He also is tied for the league lead in points (63) with Patrick Kane and has a league-high 45 assists. Karl Alzner went so far as to say that the Swede is the best player in the league afterward. With respect to tying Kane for the mark, Backstrom said, “I get a lot of ice time, so I should produce for the team. Just doing my job.”
  • With Washington’s win and losses by both Pittsburgh and the Rangers, the Caps have moved into a tie for second place in the Metropolitan division with 74 points, though the Rangers have three games in hand.
  • Mike Green went down the tunnel in the third period after taking a puck off his foot, but returned for a pair of late shifts.
  • The Capitals’ modest streak comes an an opportune time, with the division-leading Islanders coming to town on Saturday afternoon.
About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

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