Of the 680 players who have suited up for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their storied history, none have been named Backstrom. Which is weird, because a Backstrom has scored a goal for the Penguins, just not officially.
For this moment, we have to turn the dial back all the way to 2008, almost to the very beginning of this era of Penguins hockey and before any of the on-ice success came to fruition.
At this time, the Penguins rivalry with the Washington Capitals was beginning to awake from a long hibernation with the arrival of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin taking the hockey world by storm and developing into the premier individual rivalry of this generation.
Setting the stage, it’s March 9, 2008 and the Penguins are facing off with the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in a Sunday afternoon matinee broadcast nationally on NBC. As was the case for so many great moments during the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry, Doc Emerick was on the call.
The Penguins and Capitals were locked in a tight battle with the game tied 2-2 late in the third period. In the closing 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 goal mouth, and with one hand on his stick, put a harmless looking shot on goal.
Huet easily stopped the shot and directed it aside to Nicklas Backstrom who attempted to clear the puck away from danger. Instead of putting it out of reach into the corner, Backstrom buried the shot right into his own net to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
All Alex Ovechkin could do was crumple to the ice in disbelief while the Verizon Center crowd was left stunned by what just occurred. In the frenzy, Doc Emerick identified Pascal Dupuis as the goal scorer but upon further review it was quite clear Backstrom was in fact the one who scored, His first and only goal for the Penguins.
In the end, Crosby was credited for the goal being the last Penguins player to touch the puck before Backstrom shot it into the net behind Huet. Jordan Staal went on to score an empty net goal a few moments later to seal the Penguins victory.
There are plenty of other moments from the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry that come to mind when picking the best, but this was one of the first and luckily it benefitted the Penguins.