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Backstrom expected to play for Capitals in Game 6 against Penguins

Center took maintenance day for upper-body injury; Washington one win from advancing to conference final

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nicklas Backstrom is expected to play for the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS), coach Barry Trotz said Sunday.

The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-2. They will advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998 and eliminate the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions with a win.


[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Penguins series coverage]


"You're always concerned any time a player gets nicked up this time of year," Trotz said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow."

Backstrom took a maintenance day Sunday after leaving Game 5 at 6:48 of the third period with an upper-body injury Saturday. The 30-year-old center appeared to block a shot with his hand while killing a penalty midway through the first period. His 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are second on the Capitals behind Alex Ovechkin (14 points; eight goals, six assists). Backstrom has five points (one goal, four assists) against the Penguins.

Forward Lars Eller, who scored an empty-net goal with six seconds left in Game 5, moved to second-line center with Chandler Stephenson and T.J. Oshie after Backstrom left.

"I think Lars did a good job stepping in there and he got a lot more ice time," Oshie said Saturday. "[Backstrom] is on our 6-on-5 as well, Lars stepped in there again and did a great job. You can't replace No. 19. He's just too special of a player. But Lars stepped into a bigger role there, he did a great job, not sure how long -- that last eight or nine minutes there."

Backstrom has played in 107 of the Capitals' 108 playoff games since 2008. He was suspended for Game 4 against Boston in the 2012 first round for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley.

The Capitals are missing forwards Andre Burakovsky (upper body) and Tom Wilson, who will serve the final game of a three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in Game 3. Trotz said Burakovsky, who began skating on Friday, will not travel to Pittsburgh.




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