The hit that took Nicklas Backstrom out of Game 1 will now also keep him out of Game 2. Capitals head coach Todd Reirden declared on Thursday that Nicklas Backstrom would not play in Game 2 against the New York Islanders on Friday and is in the NHL's concussion protocol.
Backstrom was injured by a late hit from Islanders captain Anders Lee in Game 1. The puck was not close and Backstromw was caught by surprise by the hit. Lee was given a minor penalty for interference on the play. The Capitals made their displeasure with the hit known on the ice as John Carlson immediately dropped the gloves with Lee and Tom Wilson fought him later in the same period. After the game, Calrson called the hit "dirty," Oshie said the hit was "extremely late" and Reirden labeled in "predatory."
Despite what Washington thought, however, Lee received no supplementary discipline and now the Caps will have to prepare for Game 2 without one of their top centers.
"Nick is a tremendous leader for us," Reirden said. "His body of work as a player speaks for itself, but that's next man up. Who's going to take advantage of that opportunity? That's playoff hockey. That's winning hockey during the regular season is having guys that are in depth positions that take advantage of it."
The good news is that the team will get Lars Eller back who has been cleared to return to the ice. Eller left the Toronto bubble to be with his family for the birth of his second child. He returned and had to receive four negative tests in four days. He did so prior to Wednesday's game, but was held out as a precaution after not skating for a week.
Eller is expected to slot into the second line for Backstrom with Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie in Game 2.
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