Ovechkin and Backstrom seeking milestones as Caps take on Flames
The Washington Capitals are scheduled to celebrate at least one milestone when they visit the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, and they would like to achieve a few more.
Veteran Washington forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are slated to play their 1,000th NHL game together, which would make them the ninth set of NHL teammates to do so.
“I remember being in New Jersey when they played (No.) 900 together, and it feels like just yesterday,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said of his longtime teammates, according to NHL.com. “The stuff that they’ve accomplished is just one of those things that, every once in a while you’ve just got to stop and take it all in because you realize that it will probably never happen again.”
Alex Ovechkin needs three goals for third all-time
Individually, Ovechkin is two goals behind Jaromir Jagr (766) for third place on the NHL’s all-time list. Backstrom is just three points shy of recording his 1,000th career point. Backstrom has assisted on 274 of Ovechkin’s 764 career goals (35.9 percent), more than twice as many as any other player.
“It’s cool,” Ovechkin said. “It’s not many players play together 1,000 games and it’s good for us, it’s good for the organization, good for the fans.”
The potential milestones come at a difficult time for Ovechkin, as he’s had to face questions about his native Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“He’s done so much good for the NHL and so much good for this organization,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s a really difficult situation for him, a really difficult situation for (Evgeny) Kuznetsov and (Dmitry) Orlov and the other Russians that we have on our team.”
The native of Russia was born in Moscow. When he addressed the media about Ukraine he asked for “no more war.”
“It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — I think we live in a world, like, we have to live in peace and a great world,” he added.
Ovechkin,36, has received criticism for his longtime backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He expressed his support of Putin during an Instagram post in 2017, and his Instagram account features a picture of himself and the Russian president as his profile picture.
The Capitals are set to open a three-game western swing. They have won two in a row after losing three straight, thanks in part to an improved power play and the return of goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
Related: Russian players facing harassment
Flames look to stay hot
The Flames have been accomplishing big things lately, especially at home. They take a 13-game home point streak into the matchup with Washington.
Calgary opened a four-game homestand — and a stretch of five games in seven days — with a 3-1 win over the rival Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, giving them a 12-0-1 record in their past 13 games at the Saddledome.
Tyler Toffoli scored two goals for the Flames, and teammate Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist. Toffoli has five goals in his past five games and 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in 10 games since being acquired by Calgary in a mid-February trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
Gaudreau, who has three goals and six assists in the past five games, became the fourth player in the NHL to reach 50 assists this season.
“Every line can go out there and create momentum and do positive things throughout the game,” Toffoli said. “We just roll the lines, and we trust our power play, our penalty kill and obviously we trust our goaltenders, and I think that’s the key to success.”
Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves as Calgary ran its point streak to five games (4-0-1). The Flames are 16-2-1 since Jan. 24.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report