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The Noon Number: Pursuing Pivonka

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A look at the race to the franchise mark in career assists

ALLSPORT USA /Allsport

418 - Number of career assists for Michal Pivonka, most in Capitals franchise history. After last night's win over San Jose, Alex Ovechkin sits just seven helpers behind Pivonka at 411, with Nicklas Backstrom nipping at his heels at 408.

Who's going to get to 419 first?

At their respective assists-per-game pace for 2014-15 (0.75 for Backstrom, 0.35 for Ovechkin), Backstrom will pass Ovechkin in eight games as the first to 414 and cruises to an easy victory 15 games from now. But at their career-to-date rates (0.74 for the center, 0.56 for the goal-scorer), the two would hit 419 in the same game, maybe even on the same goal - they've combined to set-up 77 goals, including Troy Brouwer's power-play tally last night.

So the smart money is on Backstrom breaking Pivonka's mark and riding off into the sunset, never to be caught. But how's this for an ideal scenario - they both reach 418 on the same goal, then Backstrom sets up Ovechkin for number 419? Storybook.

Oh, and since we have the data (h/t Hockey-Reference.com), here's a list of Backstrom-Ovechkin's (and Ovechkin-Backstrom's) biggest beneficiaries:

Player Total Goals Assisted by Duo Regular Season Even-Strength Backstrom Primaries Ovechkin Primaries
Alexander Semin 19 16 11 10 9
Mike Green 12 11 7 6 6
Mike Knuble 10 9 9 5 5
Viktor Kozlov 7 6 6 3 4
Brooks Laich 7 7 1 4 3
Troy Brouwer 5 5 0 1 4
Marcus Johansson 4 4 0 2 2
John Carlson 2 1 1 2 0
Jason Chimera 2 2 2 0 2
Tomas Fleischmann 2 2 0 0 2
Joel Ward 2 2 0 2 0
Martin Erat 1 1 1 1 0
Matt Hendricks 1 1 1 1 0
Michael Nylander 1 1 1 1 0
Matt Pettinger 1 1 1 0 1
Tom Wilson 1 1 1 0 1
Total 77 70 42 38 39

Want more? Here's the first NHL goal on which both Backstrom and Ovechkin picked up assists, Matt Pettinger's on December 8, 2007 (~2:20):