PITTSBURGH | After going without a goal for the first nine games of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom wasn’t letting the drought bother him.
“I try not to think about it,” Backstrom said before Game 3. “I just try to play my best and help give the team the opportunity to win. That’s what I like to do, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
He was right not to be concerned. Backstrom scored a goal with 1:50 left that sent Wednesday night’s game at Mellon Arena into overtime. With the Caps on a power play, the 21-year-old snapped a shot that bounced off the back Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s pads and into the net.
“[Alexander Semin] passed it to Alex [Ovechkin], and he just redirected it at the goal,” Backstrom said. “I just tried to shoot it off the goalie. It was kind of lucky.”
But even before that, it’s not as if Backstrom wasn’t contributing offensively. His 10 assists are second to Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf for the league lead. And he extended his point streak to six games Wednesday night.
“He’s doing fine,” defenseman Mike Green said. “Sometimes you don’t play your best, and sometimes you play really well and don’t get the chances.”
Backstrom has changed linemates in the middle of the postseason for the second consecutive year. When he joined Semin on the second line last year, it boosted both players’ totals. He was moved from his spot on the top line with Ovechkin again this postseason.
“I just try to play my game, and I think I’ve been playing the same way the whole year,” Backstrom said. “I don’t try to change too much. When I am out there, [Ovechkin] is a left wing and [Semin] is a right wing - that is the biggest difference.”
Sergei Fedorov left the game in the second period with an apparent rib injury. He returned in the third period but did not take any faceoffs.
“He probably was [bothered by it], but he seems fine,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’ll see how he is and re-evaluate him [Thursday].”
Eric Fehr did not play and was replaced by Michael Nylander. Fehr left Game 2 in the first period after a big hit from Fedotenko. Nylander hadn’t played since Game 2 of the Rangers series.
“It is hard, but the longer you play injuries happen or other things happen during the series where you have to be ready and when you are put into a spot you can’t make any mistakes,” said Caps captain Chris Clark, who missed the first six games of this playoff run as a healthy scratch.
Defenseman John Erskine also did not play, missing his second straight game since taking a shot off his leg.
Alzner’s big catch
Karl Alzner, Jeff Schultz and Fehr took in a baseball game Tuesday night at PNC Park, and Alzner went home with a souvenir.
“I don’t know exactly how many batters before, but there was a foul ball hit into the section beside me and I told [Schultz] and [Fehr] that I was going to get one,” Alzner said. “A couple of batters later, it was coming for us and I said, ‘[Schultz] this is mine.’ It bounced probably six, seven, eight rows in front, and I didn’t even move - one hand, right in my chest.”
Alzner was an avid baseball player growing up. He was a catcher but always wanted to play third base because “it’s the hot corner and that’s where all the action is at.”
“I’ve got [the ball] beside my shoes in the hotel room right now,” Alzner said. “I just tossed it there. I don’t know - I’ll probably bring it home, and we’ll play baseball with it.”