Player of the night: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Before the Washington Capitals took the ice in New Jersey on Friday night there was some doubt as to whether or not Nicklas Backstrom would play after he left warmups after taking a puck to the head (he was initially listed as a scratch).
He not only played, he absolutely dominated in the Capitals’ 5-2 win.
Backstrom finished with four points, scoring a goal and adding three assists to help the Capitals bounce back from a tough loss on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are all tied for the league lead in points (10) after Friday’s game.
The Capitals may not have the depth that they did a year ago, especially after losing Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt over the summer, but they still have some elite players that are going to carry them a long way.
Highlight of the night.
How can it be anything other than Artemi Panarin‘s first goal as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets? It is a thing of beauty.
Factoid of the night.
Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson recorded the 39th shutout of his career. That puts him in the top-five among American-born goaltenders.
— The Vegas Golden Knights have lost a game. With their loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, as well as the New Jersey Devils’ loss to the Washington Capitals, there are now no more unbeaten teams in the NHL.
— Speaking of the Vegas-Detroit game, Henrik Zetterberg was magnificent for the Red Wings with four points. James Neal also continued his incredible start for Vegas with his sixth goal of the season.
— Mike Smith had a brutal night for the Calgary Flames, getting benched after giving up five goals on 22 shots.
— The Colorado Avalanche … dominated? Yeah. They did. Not only did they beat the Anaheim Ducks, 3-1, to improve to 4-1-0 on the young season but they also outshot the Ducks by a 39-18 margin. Has to be concerning if you are a Ducks fan. This game was a classic Randy Carlyle game on the shot chart.
Scores and recaps
Washington Capitals 5, New Jersey Devils 2
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, New York Rangers 1
Colorado Avalanche 3, Anaheim Ducks 1
Ottawa Senators 6, Calgary Flames 0
Detroit Red Wings 6, Vegas Golden Knights 3
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.