WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Capitals know center Nicklas Backstrom isn’t going to beat his own drum.
They’re more than happy to do it for him.
Backstrom scored two second-period goals and added an assist, Alex Ovechkin got his league-leading 38th goal and an assist and the Capitals defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 on Thursday night.
“He’s as complete a player as you’re going to find in this league,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said of Backstrom. “I’m astonished that he doesn’t get a lot more recognition, and if you ask him he’ll say ‘I’m just doing my job.'”
Backstrom, who has 16 assists in his past 16 games, moved into a tie with Chicago’s Patrick Kane atop the NHL scoring list with 63 points.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think about it too much,” Backstrom said of his points total. “The most important thing is we get points as a team and that’s what we’re doing right now. I get a lot of ice time, so I should produce for the team, so just doing my job.”
But teammate Braden Holtby called Backstrom “the heartbeat of our team,” and Karl Alzner said: “There needs to be an iso-cam on him at all times because he does things that kind of make us shake our head on the bench.”
Troy Brouwer added an empty-net goal and an assist, John Carlson scored, and Marcus Johansson added two assists for Washington, which has won four of five.
Ovechkin, celebrating his bobblehead night, extended his points streak to six games, and Holtby stopped 19 shots.
Toby Enstrom scored for Winnipeg, which had won four of five, and Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves.
The Capitals, beneficiaries of six Jets penalties, scored three power-play goals and have eight in their past six games.
“We just let their power play have way too many opportunities,” Jets forward Andrew Ladd said. “Every time we got something going we ended up in the box.”
Trailing 2-0 after one period, the Jets pulled within one when Enstrom’s shot from the point ricocheted off the stick and skate of Alzner before eluding Holtby.
Just 15 seconds later, however, Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler was called for tripping, the first of four Jets penalties over the next 4:15.
Backstrom converted on two of them.
First his shot from the point on a delayed call slipped by Pavelec to make it 3-1. Then Backstrom capped a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence when he took a pass across the slot from Ovechkin and fired it into the back of the net for his 18th goal.
“Everything,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said when asked what was missing from the Jets penalty kill. “From faceoffs, to blocks, to energy, to quick reads, to good sticks, to saves .”
Winnipeg’s first penalty came when Mark Scheifele was called for tripping at 12:26 of the first period. With the power play nearly over, Backstrom bounced a pass off the boards back to Carlson at the point. His high shot through a screen beat Pavelec.
It was the defenseman’s ninth goal of the season, and fourth in seven games.
Ovechkin made it 2-0 on a 2-on-1 break when he kept the puck and sent a wrist shot between Pavelec’s legs.
NOTES: The Capitals have won seven straight against the Jets. … Backstrom (557) passed Bengt Gustafsson (555) and Dale Hunter (556) to move into fifth place on the Capitals points list. … Winnipeg F Drew Stafford was in the lineup after leaving Monday’s game against Edmonton in the third period with an upper-body injury. … Wheeler had to be helped off the ice after blocking a shot with his left leg in the third period.
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