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Backstrom, Ovechkin give Capitals win vs. Jets

by Staff /

The Washington Capitals made the Winnipeg Jets pay for their parade to the penalty box.

Nicklas Backstrom scored two of Washington's three power-play goals in a 5-1 victory at Verizon Center on Thursday, the Capitals' seventh win in a row against the Jets.

Alex Ovechkin had his League-high 38th goal, and John Carlson and Troy Brouwer also scored for Washington, which has won three in a row and four of its past five games. Braden Holtby made 19 saves. Backstrom had an assist on Carlson's goal and moved into a tie for the NHL scoring lead with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks; each has 63 points. Backstrom is first in the League with 45 assists.

"He???s as complete a player as you???re going to find in this League," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "I was astonished that he???s never played in an All-Star Game. I was astonished that he never gets any votes for a Selke [Trophy]. I???m astonished that he doesn???t get a lot more recognition."

Backstrom's play is a big reason the Capitals (32-17-10) have moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

"He has been doing everything that we need him to do, making plays, putting pucks in the net, which is awesome to see for him, and [he's] solid defensively," Washington defenseman Karl Alzner said. "You just feel confidence when he???s breaking the puck up [the ice]."

Defenseman Toby Enstrom scored in the second period and Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves for Winnipeg (30-20-10), which had won its two previous games in shootouts.

But the Jets, who have allowed 247 power plays to opponents -- 42 more than the Pittsburgh Penguins, the only other team with more than 200 -- gave the NHL's second-best power play six opportunities, five in the first two periods.

"We just let their power play just have way too many opportunities; that was a big part of it and we just didn???t play real well," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "Every time we got something going we ended in the box and then trying to rally from there, so it kind of takes your momentum away from you."

Five of Washington's six power plays, and all three man-advantage goals, came on tripping penalties, something Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba said has to stop.

"With the style we play, we???re going to take penalties, but we???ve just got to try and limit the stick penalties," he said. "I think that???s the one thing we???ve got to get out of our game."

The Jets were burned for the first time after Mark Scheifele was called for tripping at 12:26. Brouwer won an offensive-zone draw, and the Capitals got the puck to Carlson at the right point. The defenseman's high slap shot went through a screen and past Pavelec at 14:10 for his ninth goal and a 1-0 lead.

Ovechkin, who has tortured the Jets dating to their years as the Atlanta Thrashers, made it 2-0 at 18:35 on a terrific individual effort. He took a pass from Alzner at the Winnipeg blue line, fought off the check of Trouba and snapped a shot past Pavelec from the lower left circle. It was his 16th goal in his past 16 games and his 42nd in 56 career games against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise. Ovechkin also extended his points streak to six games.

A two-goal deficit after one period was bad news for the Jets; Washington entered the game 27-1-4 when leading after 20 minutes.

The Jets made it 2-1 at 11:17 of the second period. Enstrom took a wrist shot from the high slot that appeared to hit Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen and floated past Holtby, who was screened, for his fourth goal.

But Washington made the Jets pay again on the power play to regain its two-goal lead. With Blake Wheeler off for tripping and a delayed penalty upcoming, Backstrom fired a shot from the top of the right circle that slipped through Pavelec and over the goal line at 13:07.

Backstrom scored Washington's third power-play goal at 15:47, again during a delayed penalty. The Jets had Adam Pardy in the box and were going to get a penalty for having too many men on the ice after a bad line change when Backstrom finished off a 4-on-1 break by beating Pavelec from the slot.

"We need to do a better job of staying out of the box," Ladd said. "I think there?????????s things that happen where we were just uncharacteristic of what we?????????ve been doing. They have a really good power play. We gave up a 4-on-1 on one so that?????????s pretty uncharacteristic of what we do."

It was Backstrom's 18th goal and the 49th power-play goal allowed by Winnipeg. Only the Buffalo Sabres (50) have allowed more.

Brouwer closed out the scoring when he scaled the puck from his own zone into an empty net with 6:27 remaining in regulation after Jets coach Paul Maurice pulled Pavelec during a power play.

"I thought we managed the game really well," 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."

The Capitals have a day off before the division-leading New York Islanders come to Verizon Center on Saturday afternoon. They visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN).

Backstrom is looking forward to a big weekend.

"We haven?????????t won four in a row this year, so that?????????s something we should look for as a challenge this weekend," he said. "We are going to play two really good teams."

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