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Caps' Backstrom to miss first NHL game

NHL.com @NHL
Nicklas Backstrom has not missed a game in his NHL career, but that streak will come to an end Wednesday.

Backstrom will miss Washington's contest against the Edmonton Oilers at Verizon Center because of a thumb injury. He left the Capitals' game Monday in the second period after falling on his left hand. Backstrom has been playing with a fractured left thumb, an injury he suffered Feb. 21 against Pittsburgh.

"We just want to protect his thumb," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters after the team's morning skate Wednesday. "We like him playing every game, but to us, making sure that he's ready and healthy is the most important thing. We didn't want a nagging little injury to keep him out and keep re-injuring it and that. He'll probably be out for a game or two."

The 23-year-old center has played all 313 regular-season games and 28 playoff contests for the Capitals since joining the team for the start of the 2007-08 season.

Boudreau said he expects Backstrom to skate with the team Thursday. He is wearing a hard cast, but Boudreau said it is removable. Backstrom did not miss a game after the injury occurred, but he did drastically reduce the number of faceoffs he took part in to protect his thumb for a few games.

Backstrom had career highs in goals (33), assists (68) and points (101) last season. He signed a 10-year, $67 million contract extension in the offseason to ensure he will partner with left wing Alex Ovechkin for the next decade in Washington. Backstrom was the fourth pick of the 2006 Entry Draft, and spent one extra season playing in his native Sweden before joining the Capitals.

Like most of his teammates, Backstrom's production in 2010-11 is off from last season's pace. He has 17 goals and 55 points, which is second to Ovechkin's 69 for the team lead.

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