Devils Fall to Capitals on Nicklas Backstrom’s Big Night

Bestinau got that-

WASHINGTON — This wasn’t Devil’s Night, it was Nicklas Backstrom’s.

Backstrom scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist the night Washington celebrated his 1000th career point, and the Capitals defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Saturday night.

Alex Ovechkin scored his team-leading 42nd goal in a power play in the third period to give Washington breathing room after Backstrom’s sixth of the season put the Capitals ahead for the first time, just under seven minutes into the period.

Connor McMichael and Tom Wilson also scored for the Capitals, who started the night 14 points ahead of Columbus for the second Eastern Conference wildcard. Vitek Vanecek stopped 29 shots.

“We were talking about the month of March,” said head coach Peter Laviolette after his team’s ninth win since the start. “Obviously there were a few months, January and February, that didn’t meet anyone’s demands. … March month, sometimes you can just clear the deck, turn the page of a month and start a new month, and we’ve done that and it’s going in the right direction.”

Nicklas Backstrom (No.19) celebrates a goal with Martin Fehervary (No.42) and Anthony Mantha (No.39) in the Devils’ 4-3 loss to the Capitals.
NHLI via Getty Images

Backstrom is now on 1,006 points in a career spent entirely in Washington, after a game that began with his family and team officials accompanying him on the ice to recognize him breaking the 1,000 mark on March 9 in a loss at Edmonton.

“It was clearly a great night and a fun night,” Backstrom said. “All emotional in the beginning and then playing a game right away, but then of course it ended the way I and the team wanted.”

Jack Hughes scored his 22nd goal and added his 30th assist, and Damon Severson and Jesper Bratt also scored for the last-place Devils, who missed a rare chance to take a season win over Washington. Nico Daws finished with 18 saves.

Nicklas Backstrom receives a gold hockey stick from Washington President Dick Patrick for scoring his 100th point before the Capitals defeat the Devils.
Nicklas Backstrom receives a gold hockey stick from Washington President Dick Patrick for scoring his 100th point before the Capitals defeat the Devils.

McMichael made it 2-2 early in the third inning when the Capitals advanced on a delayed penalty with a one-off pass from Justin Schultz across the line from the crease.

Backstrom put Washington ahead when he found space inside the left faceoff circle and defeated Daws through traffic to the top right corner.

Bratt scored his 22nd to pull New Jersey back within 4-3 in the final minute.

“We made a good effort to get back there on the third time that goal was scored to make it 4-3 and then we had chances to equalize,” said Severson. “But overall, the game could have gone either way, to be honest.”

Backstrom’s goal resulted in a 5-minute delay as fans threw commemorative, giveaway nerf apples onto the ice in celebration. The apples, which had to be swept and shoveled off the playing field by players and team personnel, bore “Niky: 1,000 points” with Backstrom’s silhouette as the letter ‘I’.

“I was like, ‘This is awesome,'” Backstrom said of the celebration. “I mean, I didn’t score a hat-trick, but it was nice that the crowd did. It was hilarious, I think. And then all players just keep creating. They needed some help. It was just an amazing experience.”

The Swedish-born Backstrom was honored pregame with a video tribute and several gifts from the Capitals during a red carpet, on the ice. With him were his parents, brother, fiancée and three children, as well as longtime teammates Ovechkin and Wilson.

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