Backstrom takes the spotlight, 900 is the number of the night and what was with those matching minors?

J.J. Regan

In their 900th game together, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom delivered combining for six points in a 6-3 dominant win for the Capitals over the New Jersey Devils.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the win

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Backstrom's big night

How fitting was it when the Caps' first goal was an Ovechkin snipe off a Backstrom assist? While Ovechkin is frequently the headliner for this team, on Friday it was Backstrom who dominated with another two goals and an assist in addition to his early helper for Ovechkin. That fourth point was the 900th of his career so yes, he recorded his 900th point in his 900th game with Ovechkin. That's pretty cool.

What the Caps did differently

This game did not start well for Washington. Jonas Siegenthaler took a penalty less than three minutes into the game and Kyle Palmieri scored to make it 1-0. Mackenzie Blackwood then stepped up and made a number of key saves early in the first period. Feel familiar? A bad start against a bad team felt an awful lot like Monday's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Despite how the game felt, however, it was clear in that first period that this was very different from the Columbus loss. In that game, the Blue Jackets' forecheck dominated initially to give them an early lead, then the defense suffocated Washington, keeping the Caps to the perimeter. On Friday, the Caps were in control of that first period despite the early deficit. Washington held New Jersey to six shots in those first 20 minutes, they were getting good opportunities and taking advantage of defensive breakdowns from New Jersey.

Columbus has more talent and ran its gameplan to perfection against the Caps. New Jersey got an early goal, but otherwise played a bad game against a far superior Washington team.

Orlov led in ice time

If you guessed John Carlson would be the ice-time leader in this game, well, you'd be wrong. Orlov skated a team-high 21:31. With the game well in hand, Todd Reirden spread out the minutes which should be beneficial as the team has the quick turnaround against Tampa Bay on Saturday. 

Matching minors?

Sports can often be cruel, but sometimes it can also be poetic in the way things work out. No, I'm not talking about Backstrom's night, though that would certainly qualify, I am talking about the two goals Washington scored during a 4-on-4 when the referees inexplicably awarded matching minors to Garnet Hathaway and Miles Wood.

In the second period, Wayne Simmonds knocked down Hathaway in a board battle and landed on top of him. Hathaway landed on top of Miles Wood who took exception. Then he and Hathaway began engaging with each other while Simmonds just parked himself on top of Hathaway pinning him to the ice.

You would think the Caps would get a power play from this exchange, but instead matching minors were issued.

 

The other angle of the video shows that Hathaway and Wood were definitely both going after each other. You want to give Hathaway a penalty, fine, but Simmonds very clearly parked himself on top of Hathaway. This is ridiculous. You have to give New Jersey two penalties there.

That just felt like the referee had made up his mind as to what he was calling initially and just wasn't paying attention. Being a referee is harder than saying, hey, there's a scrum! Uh...matching minors!

There are two players literally on top of Hathaway. Horrible call.

Turning point

The only positive from the matching minors to Hathaway and Wood is that Washington capitalized. The Devils' defense struggled to keep up with the Caps all game long and when it became a straight man-on-man, 4-on-4 game, Washington torched New Jersey.

When Hathaway and Wood entered the penalty box, the score was tied at 2. When they got out, Washington was up 4-2 thanks to goals from Backstrom and John Carlson and the game felt like it was over.

Play of the game

How do you celebrate the 900th game for Ovechkin and Backstrom? By Backstrom setting up Ovechkin for a goal of course.

Stat of the game

Backstrom is the second player in franchise history to reach 900 points which, again, he did in his 900th game with Ovechkin.

Quote of the game

Always humble.


Fan predictions

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

Backstrom got four points by himself. Ovechkin added another two.

I mean, pretty much.

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Backstrom takes the spotlight, 900 is the number of the night and what was with those matching minors? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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