At the beginning of the second period, the Washington Capitals were trailing the New York Islanders 3-0. Then Alex Ovechkin tied JG Pageau in the boards and the team started to find its game.
Garnett Hathaway squealed Alex Ovechkin’s rebound past Ilya Sorokin for the first time, falling to the ice. Three minutes later, Tom Wilson Brought the Caps even closer after scoring his first goal since returning from major knee surgery.
Wilson teamed up with Nicklas Backstrom.
After a nice bicycle ride in the corner, Backstrom began to slide into the back of the net before sending a blind return pass to Wilson. With two stunned Islanders in front of the net, Wilson flicked a puck past Sorokin, who was leaning the other way.
back delicious 🍎 pic.twitter.com/Iff3VCrCHp
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 17, 2023
“[Backstrom] he’s a player when he’s got that wrap that you’re trying to open, and more often than not he’s going to find you,” Wilson told NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken during the second halftime. “We had a few months to work on that one.”
The apple gave Backstrom the most assists in franchise history against the Islanders (45). It also ranks fourth among active NHL players.
Nicklas Backstrom had the key assist on Wilson’s goal, his second assist this season in four games. Backstrom’s 45 career assists against the Islanders are fourth among active players.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 17, 2023
This is Wilson’s fourth game since returning from major left knee surgery.
During four months of rehab with Nicklas Backstrom at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex, the two players grew closer and returned together against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Via RMNB story on January 4th.
Wilson spent the vast majority of his rehab next to another Capitals focal point in Nicklas Backstrom. Partly out of sheer necessity, they’ve been virtually inseparable in the gym, in the locker room when the rest of their teammates are on the road, and most importantly on the ice as they work to get back in shape.
When asked if the two became best friends, Wilson joked that Backstrom ditched Mike Green for him.
“No, I’m just kidding,” Wilson said, afraid of the consequences of such words. “If Greenie heard that, he might be upset.”
Wilson then explained the nuances of his close relationship with Backstrom.
“We’ve always been close and he’s always been a mentor and a leader to me,” Wilson said. “We definitely spend a lot of time together. There aren’t many guys every day when I come to the rink where I have to be good and I have to push myself because I feel like I owe it to him as a leader. He just has that demeanor about him. Everyone around him wants to be better. It’s great to distract from each other’s conversations. Ups, downs, everything. We’d both rather not be in that situation, but I’m lucky he’s there.”
Laviolette paired the two players on the third line against the Islanders and it paid dividends tonight.