I had a similar problem with my macbook after a water spill. Backlight not working and the macbook was very slow. I tried booting the macbook without the flexcable that goes from the I/O board to the logicboard and without that cable the backlight did work, but the macbook was still very slow. First I cleaned the whole logicboard with alcohol. Then I bought a new flex cable and replaced the I/O board, and now it works perfect again. I hope this might help you.
Final update: I connected the new flex cable that goes from the I/O board to the logic board, and somehow it booted up with backlight and everything. So I guess the cleaning and the new cable did the job. I'm so happy that the problem is solved, and I want to thank oldturkey03 and Dan.