Nicklas Backstrom scored one goal and one assist on Sunday in Sweden’s win over Denmark, his first game in the World Championship since Washington's elimination from the playoffs.
Absent from the tournament is fellow Swede Marcus Johansson who will not participate due to a fractured finger.
The injury was revealed after Washington was ousted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Johansson said at the team’s breakdown day that he suffered the injury in Game 1 against Pittsburgh.
“It was kind of tough and different, but that's the way it goes,” Johansson said. “There's no excuses. It was a little different, a little tough shooting the puck and handling the puck, but that's the way it goes. I just have to find a way to battle through it. That's playoff hockey.”
Johansson was careful to keep his hands in his pockets and did not reveal which hand or which finger was injured, though considering he said it was hard to shoot, it most likely happened to his left hand as he is a left-handed shooter.
The injury helps explain why Johansson, who was instrumental in the Caps' first round win over Toronto with five points including two goals in the Game 6 finale, was limited to just three assists against the Penguins. He, however, is making no excuses.
"I think everyone, every team has injuries," Johansson said. "That's just the way it is this time of year so it's something you just kind of have to suck it up."
When asked if the fracture would require surgery, Johansson answered, “I hope not.”
The IIHF World Championship is not given much significance by NHL fans considering most of the best players miss at least some if not all of the tournament due to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year, however, it has added importance given the fact that the NHL has said it will not participate in the 2018 Olympics.
Being unable to play in the Worlds literally, adds insult to injury for Johansson. As disappointed as he may be, however, he would have gladly missed the tournament to continue playing in the conference finals.
“I think you want to play in the worlds, but when you're playing that's the last thing you want to do,” Johansson said. “You never want to end like this. Now I wish I could have gone, but not much [I can] do about it now. I don't think it would be fair to me or the team or anyone to go now and not be able to really play my best game.”
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