Backes picked up two assists after he was away from the team to be with his wife for the birth of their son, and the Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 on Saturday for their fourth straight victory.
"After what I saw my wife go through birthing that baby, I figured I could come on a few hours sleep and play a hockey game," said Backes, who missed practice on Friday.
Patrice Bergeron scored twice in the third period and Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who have won 13 of 17 since they had a four-game losing streak last month. Tuukka Rask made 30 saves.
"It’s always good to go into a break feeling good and on a little streak," Marchand said. "But we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. We have to make sure when we come back we’re playing the same way."
Coach Jeff Blashill said the Red Wings played a lot like they did during a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday.
"On Wednesday, it’s a tie game in the third and they make a play on a rush. Same thing tonight. They make a play on a rush," he said. "We’ve got to find a way to make a play to make the difference in a game. When you end games like this you’re frustrated 100 per cent."
The game was tied at 1 when Bergeron scored his ninth of the season at 6:11 on a one-timer Howard never saw. Marchand set up Bergeron’s shot from the left circle with a pass across the slot for his 198th career assist.
"It was more of a better shot than a pass," Marchand said. "He one-timed it in stride and really didn’t give the goalie a chance to get over there. It was a great shot by Bergie."
Down 2-1 in the final minutes, Detroit missed an opportunity to get Howard off the ice for an extra skater by icing the puck with 1:25 remaining. Howard made it to the bench with about 1:10 left and the Bruins needed a big save by Rask on a tip in front with 28 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Marchand and Backes got the puck to Bergeron from just across centre ice for the empty netter.
"As a team as of late, we’re just not getting the results every single night that we want," Howard said. "For us right now they’re must wins. We’ve got find ways to get the points and that’s all it boils down to."
Boston jumped in front on Marchand’s 15th goal on a one-timer 13:37 into the first off a crossing pass from Backes from the left side of the net. Boston was just 18 seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage with David Booth sitting out for a slashing minor and a call for too many men on the ice.
Marchand retrieved the puck from the back of the net and gave it to Backes.
"It just shows the character of him and what he’s willing to battle through," Marchand said. "The fact that he came out and had such a big game is awesome."
The Red Wings quickly responded with a short-handed goal by Nielsen, who took the puck in alone after a turnover right outside the Boston zone and beat Rask between his pads at 14:38.
It was just the third shot of the game for Detroit, which was outshot 11-6 in the first period.
NOTES: Boston F David Pastrnak also had two assists. … Nielsen’s short-handed goal was the seventh for the Red Wings this season. Detroit was tied for the NHL lead coming into the day. … Detroit C Luke Glendening, who left a loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday with an upper-body injury, did not play and is expected to miss several weeks.
Red Wings: Visit the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.
Bruins: Host Ottawa on Wednesday.