Nicklas Backstrom will not play for the Washington Capitals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, FX-CA, TVAS, NBCSWA, MSG, MSG+).
Capitals coach Todd Reirden said the 32-year-old center is in the NHL concussion protocol. Backstrom was injured on a hit from Islanders forward Anders Lee 2:33 into the first period of New York’s 4-2 victory in Game 1 in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday. Lee received an interference penalty on the play.
Backstrom did not miss a shift over the remainder of the period, playing seven shifts for 7:21 of ice time and getting one shot on goal, but did not return after the first intermission.
Backstrom was third on the Capitals with 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) in 61 games during the regular season. He had one assist in Washington’s three games in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
“Obviously, Nick is a tremendous leader for us,” Reirden said. “His body of work as a player speaks for itself. But that’s next man up. Who’s going to take advantage of that opportunity? That’s playoff hockey. Winning hockey during the regular season is having guys that are in a depth position take advantage of it.”
Third-line center Lars Eller will move up to replace Backstrom on the second line. Eller sat out Game 1 after returning to Washington following the birth of his son Alexander on Aug. 4 and quarantining in his hotel room in Toronto for four days.
More to come