Backstrom completes rally after Ovechkin is ejected

March 15, 2010|By Tarik El-Bashir | The Washington Post

CHICAGO — — It took more than two periods and the ejection of their best player for the Washington Capitals to get fully invested in the game.

But when they awoke, Nicklas Backstrom and his teammates finally looked like the NHL's best team. Backstrom scored two of Washington's four unanswered goals, including one late in overtime, to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-3, in a game that might well have been a preview of this year's Stanley Cup Finals.

Thanks to another controversial hit by two-time NHL Most Valuable Player Alex Ovechkin, however, Backstrom's end-to-end rush in the extra session wasn't the focus after the league-leading Capitals humbled the league's third-ranked team before a national television audience and a capacity crowd at United Center.

Ovechkin was ejected for shoving Brian Campbell at 12 minutes, 16 seconds of the first period, sending the Blackhawk back-first into the boards behind the Chicago net.

Campbell had just reversed the puck when Ovechkin, who outweighs the defenseman by 34 pounds, shoved him on his side, causing Campbell to lose his balance and hit the boards with a thump.

Ovechkin was first sent to the penalty box, then escorted from the rink by a linesman after being assessed five minutes for boarding and his third misconduct of the season. Campbell did not return to the game and will be "out for a bit" according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

It was unclear whether Ovechkin would face further punishment from the NHL, but the league tends to come down harder on players with a history of infractions. This was the third time Ovechkin was ejected from a game after Nov. 25 and Nov. 30.

"It was not a hard hit," Ovechkin said. "I just little push him ... but I don't think it has to be five minutes. I've seen the replay a couple of times. He fell bad."

Quenneville disagreed, saying only, "It was a tough hit, a dangerous hit."

With Washington already down a man because of Ovechkin's penalty, Alexander Semin was sent off for goaltender interference, and Jonathan Toews wasted little time capitalizing. The Chicago captain netted his second goal of the game, beating José Theodore on a rebound.

Moments after Semin drew a double-minor penalty for a high stick, Brooks Laich put a rebound past Antti Niemi at 5:29 of the third period.

On the scoring play, Chicago's Colin Fraser was also whistled for high sticking, setting up a five-on-three for two minutes.

The Blackhawks took two shots in overtime. But Backstrom made sure Washington's only shot in the extra session started the Capitals' four-game road trip off right.

"We know Ovie is the key to our team," Backstrom said. "He scores a lot of goals and he creates a lot of chances, but we have shown before that other players can play, too. That's ... good for the playoffs."

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