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Capitals rolling along without Ovechkin

Sunday, 12.06.2009 / 12:08 AM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- With five points in Saturday's 8-2 win over Philadelphia, Washington center Nicklas Backstrom stormed ahead of Alex Ovechkin in the team's scoring race.

He now has 8 goals and 25 assists for 33 points while Ovechkin, who missed the last two games due to a suspension, has 18 goals and 12 assists for 30 points.

Similarly, defenseman Mike Green's four-point night put him in a tie with the two-time Hart Trophy winner -- he now has 5 goals and 25 assists for 30 points.

Granted, Ovechkin has eight games in hand on his two electrifying teammates, but Green has a message for him.

"Alex better pick it up," Green said.

Backstrom and Green overtaking or catching Ovechkin for the team's scoring lead is only part of a bigger story that has developed in Washington. In the eight games the Capitals have played without Ovechkin this season (six due to injury, plus the two-game suspension), 15 different players have combined to score 36 goals, including Tomas Fleischmann's eight.

After winning the last two games by a combined 14-4, the Capitals are somehow averaging 4.5 goals per game without the League's best sniper and 3.29 in the 21 games they have played with him.

If you can figure that one out, we've got another brain teaser for you as well.

Ovechkin will return for Monday's game in Tampa Bay.

"It shows our depth, but we'll be happy when he plays Monday," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's a goal a game guy and the best player in the League. He's done it so many times for them, so they are stepping up for him. I hope they continue to step up on Monday and don't say, 'OK, Alex, you're back, you do it.' "

Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery