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Capitals at Canucks preview

Backstrom game-time decision for Washington; Nilsson of Vancouver seeking third shutout in fourth start

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

CAPITALS (4-4-1) at CANUCKS (5-3-1)



The Game

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will be a game-time decision against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday after missing the morning skate because of illness.

Backstrom, with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) this season, is tied with center Evgeny Kuznetsov (12 assists) for the Capitals scoring lead.

Center Chandler Stephenson skated in Backstrom's spot and could make his season debut for the Capitals, who lost top-line right wing Andre Burakovsky for 6-8 weeks because of surgery to repair a fractured left thumb on Tuesday.

Goaltender Anders Nilsson will make his first home start for Vancouver after making 29 saves in a 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to help the Canucks complete a 4-1-0 road trip.


Players to watch

Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin has one goal on 21 shots in his past four games after scoring nine goals on 29 shots in his previous five games.

Nilsson has two shutouts in three starts and a .949 save percentage, but was pulled after giving up four goals on 17 shots 10:40 into his other start against the Boston Bruins on Oct. 19.


They said it

"Obviously, he's a big part of our team and we rely on him in a lot of situations, but that's an opportunity for someone else, so take advantage of that." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Backstrom


"They are super skilled and I think with my speed I can get on the forecheck and recover pucks for them." -- Canucks right wing Jake Virtanen, who has three points (two goals and one assist) in three games since being moved onto a line with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Alex Chiasson

Tom Wilson -- Chandler Stephenson -- T.J. Oshie

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Jakub Vrana

Nathan Walker -- Jay Beagle -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Taylor Chorney

Christian Djoos -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik -- Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Aaron Ness

Injured: Matt Niskanen (upper body), Tyler Graovac (upper body), Andre Burakovsky (thumb), Nicklas Backstrom (illness)


Canucks projected lineup

Sven Baertschi -- Bo Horvat -- Brock Boeser

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Jake Virtanen

Thomas Vanek -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Sam Gagner

Markus Granlund -- Brandon Sutter -- Derek Dorsett

Ben Hutton -- Christopher Tanev

Michael Del Zotto -- Erik Gudbranson

Derrick Pouliot -- Alex Biega

Anders Nilsson

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Patrick Wiercioch, Michael Chaput

Injured: Alexander Edler (knee), Loui Eriksson (knee), Troy Stecher (knee)


Status report

Stephenson, who has played 13 NHL games over the previous two seasons, has six points (five goals and one assist) in six games this season for Hershey of the American Hockey League. … The Canucks sent forward Brendan Gaunce, who hasn't played since offseason shoulder surgery, to Utica of the AHL on a conditioning assignment.


Stat pack

The Capitals have won four straight against the Canucks and Kuznetsov has points in all four. … The Canucks have killed eight straight penalties over the past three games.

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