There was a time in Nicklas Backstrom's career when the center enjoyed setting up goals more than actually scoring them.
That, however, is no longer the case.
"I can't say I don't like it," Backstrom cracked after notching his 16th and 17th goals in the third period tonight to lift the Caps to a 5-2 win over the Senators and a shaky Pascal Leclaire.
Backstrom's pair of goals moved him into second on the Caps behind Alex Ovechkin, who tallied his 27th tonight. It was also the fifth multi-goal game of the season for Backstrom (he had two multi-goal games in his career before this year) and gives him nine goals in the past 11 games.
"He showed a lot of leadership because I thought we were floundering a little bit in the second period when it was 2-1," Boudreau said of Backstrom. "Then he comes out in the third period and gets two goals."
Check out my gamer here, then come on back for some notes and quotes that didn't make it:
*Goaltender Jose Theodore needed a bounce back performance, and tonight he delivered one. He made 26 stops to pick up his first win since Dec. 15. More important, though, he's got Coach Bruce Boudreau believing in him again.
"Tonight, right off the bat I felt like I controlled it, controlled the game and controlled my rebounds," Theodore said. "It's something I have been working on."
"I am just going to be ready for every game," Theodore added. "There are 40 games left, pretty much, and obviously a lot of big games, and I just want to get the ball rolling and get in a good groove. Then from there just make the decision easier for the coaching staff to play me."
*Tomas Fleischmann won 12 of 15 faceoffs tonight (80 percent) and 6 of 9 in his debut at center on Tuesday. Who would have guessed? Actually, Flash the fastest hands and perhaps the best hand-eye coordination on the team (Alexander Semin might have something to say about that statement, though).
"I had no idea," Boudreau said. "But he's got such quick hands, it makes sense that he would be good on faceoffs. Dean Evason has worked with him on that, but I think a lot of it is natural ability."
*Ovechkin scored his first goal as captain, notched two assists and fired 10 shots on goal (and attempted a total of 15). So much for that two-game pointless streak. Tonight, however, marked only the second time this season that he's reached double digits in shots.
*After missing most of the season with a balky back, Boyd Gordon has played two of the past three games and tonight scored his first goal since Jan. 1, 2009, a span of 36 regular season games. And he celebrated like it, too, dropping to a knee and doing an emphatic fist pump.
"It has kind of been an up and down year for me; it's kind of like starting the season again right now," Gordon said. "But I'm getting more and more comfortable and hopefully on [the upswing]."
*One start after getting the hook, Leclaire struggled again -- big time. No other way to put it. He probably should have stopped one of Backstrom's goals (if not both) as well as Mike Knuble's.
*Specials teams were a mixed bag for the Caps. The penalty kill snuffed out all three shorthanded situations (Mike Green made a nice diving clear on the first one). But the power play went 0-3 and is now 6 for 33 over the past nine games.
The problem with the PP, at least in Boudreau's mind, has everything to do with work ethic, or lack of it.
"We could have had could have [scored] two goals on the PP and still wouldn't have thought it was very good," he said. "We didn't outwork them. When you've got a 5 on 4, that means you've got the extra guy. Everyone was looking for the puck and [expecting] someone else to go get it."
*Fun stat of the night: The Caps have enjoyed a league best 29 multi-goal games, but no hat tricks yet.
That's it from me tonight. Practice tomorrow is at 11.