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It’s official: Nicklas Backstrom suspended for Game 4

Nicklas Backstrom

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


Attribute it to Craig Adams’ instigator turning into a one-game suspension or any number of other factors, but either way, Nicklas Backstrom will sit one game himself. The NHL has the right to rescind a late-game match penalty that would hand Backstrom an automatic suspension, but they opted not to. Here is Brendan Shanahan’s explanation:

Health permitting, Backstrom is generally regarded as the Capitals’ best player after Alex Ovechkin. He scored Washington’s overtime winner in Game 2, so he’ll be missed even in his current (possibly not 100 percent) state.

The Capitals have spent long spans without Backstrom during this season, but this might be their biggest test so far. They could very well find themselves in a 3-1 hole by the time he’s available again.