After missing three games with an upper body injury Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is scheduled to return to the lineup tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Verizon Center (6:30 Pregame Live, CSN), .
"He's one of the best centermen in the National Hockey League," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's a great distributor, he's a great two-way player, he's a Selke candidate. He's all that. As Ovi is the face of our franchise, he's one of the faces, too. Getting him back gives us a little more depth, a few more options and a real good player back in."
The Capitals are 3-2-1 without Backstrom in the lineup and have been outscored 18-16 in those six games.
Backstrom sat out three straight games with an upper body injury sustained last week in Philadelphia. On Thursday morning he centered a top line with left wing Alex Ovechkin and right wing T.J. Oshie.
The Caps also switched up their defensive pairings, reuniting Brooks Orpik with John Carlson, and Dmitry Orlov with Nate Schmidt.
"I think we're ready to try some more things," Trotz said. "I think we're going to get back to a little more stable top four."
The Penguins have won 13 of 14 and can clinch home ice with a win tonight.
Here is the Caps’ projected lineup:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Jason Chimera – Marc us Johansson – Jay Beagle
Daniel Winnik – Mike Richards – Tom Wilson
Extras: Michael Latta, Stan Galiev
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nate Schmidt
Braden Holtby (starter) – Philipp Grubauer
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