Capitals F Nicklas Backstrom returns from left hip injury

NHL Hockey

CHICAGO (AP)Nicklas Backstrom is in for the Washington Capitals. Evgeny Kuznetsov is out.

Backstrom made his season debut Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks after being sidelined by a left hip injury. He picked up an assist in Washington’s 5-4 overtime loss.

”I thought that he made good plays out there,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. ”He looked good. It was typical Nick. He’s smart. He sees the ice. He sees the plays. I thought he played a good game.”

Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and center Nic Dowd also returned for Washington after they were removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Capitals placed forward Anthony Mantha on long-term injured reserve. Mantha had shoulder surgery last month.

While Backstrom, van Riemsdyk and Dowd played against the Blackhawks, the team said Kuznetsov was unavailable because of COVID-19 protocol. The Capitals also have forward Garnet Hathaway in the protocol.

The 29-year-old Kuznetsov has nine goals and 21 assists in 28 games this season.

Backstrom, who turned 34 last month, skated again Wednesday morning. The Swede had a team-high 38 assists and 53 points in 55 games last season.

”Everything felt good,” he said after the loss. ”The hip felt good. It’s just that I haven’t played a game in a while, so it’s going to take a couple of games to get my timing back and stuff.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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