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Capitals’ Backstrom to miss third consecutive game

Washington Capitals v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Three

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 17: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals lines up for a face-off in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 17, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Nicklas Backstrom

Getty Images

The Washington Capitals will once again be without star center Nicklas Backstrom on Sunday night when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Backstrom has been sidelined since the third period of Game 5 of their second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins due to a hand injury after he was hit by a Justin Schultz shot.

In his absence the Capitals have been able to continue winning, defeating the Penguins in Game 6 of the second round and then opening the Conference Final series with a 4-2 win over the Lightning.

In Backstrom’s absence the Capitals have been using Lars Eller on the second line between Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie. In 11 games this postseason Backstrom has three goals and 10 assists for the Capitals and is the team’s third-leading scorer, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. That came after a 71-point (21 goals, 50 assists) performance in 81 regular season games.

Eller scored a goal for the Capitals in their Game 1 win over the Lightning and has four goals and four assists this postseason.

The Capitals are playing in their first Conference Final series since 1998 and have a chance to take a 2-0 series lead with a win on Sunday.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.