Of the 680 players who have played with the Pittsburgh Penguins in their history, none have been named Backstrom. Which is weird, because a Backstrom did score a goal for the Penguins, but not officially.
For now, we have to turn the clock back to 2008, almost the very beginning of this era of Penguins hockey and before any on-ice successes materialized.
Around this time, the Penguins’ rivalry with the Washington Capitals was beginning to awaken from a long hibernation with the arrival of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin taking the hockey world by storm and becoming the first individual rivalry of that generation.
It’s March 9, 2008, and the Penguins take on the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on a Sunday afternoon matinee that airs nationally on NBC. As was the case with so many great moments during the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry, Doc Emerick was on the call.
The Penguins and Capitals faced off in a close battle with a 2-2 draw late in the third period. In the final minute, the Penguins were pushing hard to score before the horn and prevent overtime.
It was an all-out scramble from the Penguins in search of the game-winning goal, but nothing could get past goaltender Cristobal Huet. Eventually, the puck came to Sidney Crosby who was posted near the mouth of the goal, and with one hand on his stick, put in a seemingly harmless shot on net.
Huet easily stopped the shot and aimed it at Nicklas Backstrom who tried to clear the puck from danger. Instead of putting it out of reach in the corner, Backstrom buried the shot directly into his own net to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
All Alex Ovechkin could do was collapse on the ice in disbelief as the Verizon Center crowd stunned at what just happened. In the frenzy, Doc Emerick identified Pascal Dupuis as the scorer, but upon closer examination it was abundantly clear that Backstrom was in fact the scorer, his first and only goal for the Penguins.
In the end, Crosby was credited with the goal being the last Penguins player to touch the puck before Backstrom shot it into the net behind Huet. Jordan Staal then scored into an empty net moments later to seal the Penguins victory.
There are plenty of other moments from the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry that come to mind when choosing the best, but this was one of the first and luckily it benefited the Penguins.