ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals put center Nicklas Backstrom on injured reserve Wednesday morning and offered no timetable for his return other than to say he can be activated at any point.
Backstrom, who watched practice from the bench while wearing a red hoodie, has missed the last two games since taking a flagrant elbow to the head from Calgary forward Rene Bourque in last Tuesday's game against Calgary. Bourque was suspended for five games for the infraction.
"We're being cautious with him still," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "He's not feeling 100 percent, so we're being careful."
The Capitals will also again be without defenseman Mike Green when they face Pittsburgh on Wednesday at Verizon Center. Green re-injured his groin this past Saturday at San Jose and missed the game at Los Angeles on Monday.
Green previously missed 23 straight games after initially injuring his groin Nov. 11 at New Jersey. The game against San Jose was his first one back, but he played only nine shifts totaling 7:11 before having to leave. He was seen walking with a noticeable limp when he arrived at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday morning.
"He's getting strength. He needs more strength," Hunter said. "Once he gets enough strength he'll be good. It's one of those things where it won't be long term, but it just takes time to build that up a little bit more."
Washington used Backstrom's roster spot to call up defenseman Tomas Kundratek from Hershey of the AHL. Kundratek will make his season debut Wednesday against Pittsburgh. He will be paired with Roman Hamrlik.
John Erskine and Jeff Schultz will be the Capitals' healthy scratches on defense.
"He's been playing well down there so we thought we'd give him the chance up here to see what he can do and get a look at him," Hunter said. "I've seen him play once. He's a good skater and he moves the puck. So, we're anxious to take a look at him at this level. We like his mobility, that he can skate, and when you're playing well down there you get to come up here and play."
Tomas Vokoun will make his seventh straight start. He gave up four goals on 27 shots and was pulled after two periods in Monday's 5-2 loss at Los Angeles, but Hunter said the Capitals played poorly in front of Vokoun and didn't give him a chance.
"He's a veteran," Hunter said. "He'll be ready to go."
Here are Washington's projected forward lines and defense pairings based off of the morning skate:
Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Alexander Semin
Troy Brouwer - Brooks Laich - Mike Knuble
Jason Chimera - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Jay Beagle
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Tomas Kundratek
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl