The Washington Times - March 15, 2012, 09:21AM

At 9:14 a.m. Thursday, Nicklas Backstrom dumped some pucks on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and stepped onto the ice for the third straight day.

It was just some solo skating, but another day with the ability to skate for a player two months removed from a concussion can only be described as good news. Backstrom did not show off any bursts of speed or slap shots, but stickhandled and skated lightly around. He spent time flipping pucks at an empty net from the far zone.

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At 9:29 strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish stepped on and started upping Backstrom’s intensity level. He started skating hard at that point, doing sprints up and down the ice, though not at full speed. Nemish also skated with Backstrom on Tuesday.

Backstrom gave Dennis Wideman a stick tap to the head on his way off the ice at 9:48.

Backstrom has not played since Rene Bourque gave him a concussion Jan. 3. He hasn’t practiced with the Washington Capitals since Jan. 6 in San Jose. The past two months and change since have been all about waiting. Dale Hunter and George McPhee said Backstrom was feeling better, and he was always listed as day-to-day.

There’s still no timetable for Backstrom to return to game action and likely no real timetable for him to return to full practices. As with all NHL concussions, there’s a protocol that players and teams need to follow; that includes the star center needing to be first cleared to practice with teammates and then cleared for contact.

So it’s impossible to predict when, or even if, Backstrom will be back. But another day on the ice is a positive sign and would be even more so if he reports no ill effects from another skate.

Backstrom is set to speak with reporters this morning.