The Washington Times - January 3, 2012, 10:37PM

It didn’t look good. Nicklas Backstrom’s head was undoubtedly on the wrong end of Rene Bourque’s right elbow at about the midway point of the third period, and the Calgary Flames forward went to the penalty box.

That kind of hit seemed suspension worthy, especially after seeing it on replay, something Brendan Shanahan will do in the very near future. But for the time being, the immediate news did not seem optimistic from the Washington Capitals’ point of view.


Backstrom stayed in the game but was removed with around three minutes left for what coach Dale Hunter called precautionary reasons. The star center and Caps’ leading scorer was not made available to speak to reporters because he was being evaluated by doctors.

“We just removed him from the game,” Hunter said Tuesday night. “It was precautionary, and he’s getting evaluated right now. We’ll know more tomorrow.”

Bourque was suspended two games last month for a hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, making him a repeat offender. Troy Brouwer said Bourque has the reputation as a player who would deliver questionable hits.

Marcus Johansson admitted not seeing the play well but did not offer up kind words about the elbow.

“The puck isn’t even close, and it’s very, very unnecessary,” he said.

Hunter said he did not know if Backstrom had to go to the quiet room at Verizon Center. That is part of the NHL’s concussion safety protocol if a player is experiencing symptoms after a head injury.

Said Bourque: “Did it look really bad? Was he hurt? I didn’t even know if I clipped him,” he said. “I didn’t even know if I hit him in the head.”