WASHINGTON — — Nicklas Backstrom has already cemented his reputation as one of the NHL's best setup men. But over the past month, the 22-year-old Swede has shown he has the potential to be one of hockey's best finishers, too.
Backstrom scored two goals against the league's best goalie Wednesday night, giving him 10 in the past 11 games, to power the Washington Capitals past Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, at Verizon Center.
"He's shooting the puck," coach Bruce Boudreau said of Backstrom. "He's got a good shot, and it's sneaky quick. We've been asking him for a long time now to shoot more."
Backstrom and the league's top-ranked offense struck just 78 seconds into the game and never trailed. Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Brendan Morrison also scored, and rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth made 32 saves to give the Capitals their third victory in four games.
Afterward, though, much of the talk focused on Backstrom and his goal-scoring prowess.
"I'm trying to find better spots, so maybe that's the reason," Backstrom said. "Bruce told me I have to shoot more, so I'm trying to do that."
During his 11-game tear, Backstrom has taken 33 shots; he logged 21 in the 11 games before that.
The goals were Backstrom's 13th and 14th of the season. They also marked his fourth multi-goal game of the year - three more than he had all last season.
The Capitals dominated the first period, out-shooting the Sabres 15-4 and taking a 2-0 lead.