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The Montreal Canadiens are down a game and a key player early in their series with the Ottawa Senators.
Montreal Canadiens forward Rene Bourque will be out indefinitely with a concussion.
While Erskine did not have "malicious intent," according to NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, the defenseman will still miss the next three games after giving Wayne Simmonds a head injury. The Caps were prepared for the immediate aftermath Friday night and are ready for life without Erskine in the near future.
Nicklas Backstrom is back for the Washington Capitals.
Sweat dripped from Nicklas Backstrom's hair just minutes after he stepped off the ice following some tiring battle drills with Washington Capitals teammate Jay Beagle. It was another step in Backstrom's preparation to return to game action after missing almost three months with a concussion.
Washington Capitals players tapped their sticks on the ice as fans cheered when Nicklas Backstrom stepped onto the ice Saturday for his first practice with the team in more than two months. A concussion has sidelined him since early January, and it was clear at that moment and many others that the Caps miss him. Badly.
Nicklas Backstrom keeps taking steps in the right direction in his recovery from a concussion, and now it seems like his return to the Washington Capitals' lineup could be coming closer than many expected.
Nicklas Backstrom doesn't love talking to reporters in big groups. He has a reputation for being quiet. But the 24-year-old didn't seem to mind the cameras Thursday.
Nicklas Backstrom attended the Washington Capitals' casino night Friday and hosted a team Super Bowl party — good signs for his morale if nothing else.
In the third period of the Washington Capitals' 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at Verizon Center, Rene Bourque lifted his right elbow up and struck Nicklas Backstrom in the jaw. Backstrom stayed in the game briefly but had to come out.
It took just nine seconds into Rene Bourque's first shift Jan. 18 for the Washington Capitals' Matt Hendricks to challenge him to fight. On Jan. 3, then with the Calgary Flames, Bourque put Nicklas Backstrom out of the lineup with a reckless elbow to the head.
If this was boxing, Matt Hendricks would have lost by unanimous decision. Rene Bourque dominated their fight Wednesday night at Bell Centre and finished it all with a takedown, to the delight of the Montreal Canadiens fans in attendance.
There's no indication of when Washington Capitals leading scorer Nicklas Backstrom (42 points) will be back. With head injuries, symptoms can change from day to day.
Nicklas Backstrom spent two days downplaying concerns about whatever kind of head injury he suffered Tuesday night resulting from Rene Bourque's right elbow. He repeatedly said he's feeling "pretty good" and that he'd be available for the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at the San Jose Sharks.
It didn't matter that Nicklas Backstrom was all smiles and talked about feeling "pretty good" after Thursday's practice. Head injuries are mysteries and symptoms can come and go.
"I'm not sure where the contact was, but obviously it wasn't a clean play. It's something you've got to take out (of the game)," winger Rene Bourque said.
For his part, Bourque said he didn't realize the severity of the problem.