- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 13, 2018

TAMPA — Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will be a game-time decision Sunday for Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after participating in portions of the team’s morning skate.

Backstrom has missed the last two games with a hand injury. He did not, however, take rushes with the Capitals — which is normally a key indicator of whether a player will be in the lineup.

But Capitals coach Barry Trotz did not rule Backstrom out.

Backstrom did handle the puck and took part in some of the team’s drills. He shot the puck occasionally, as well.

The origin of Backstrom’s injury is unclear. He left in the third period of Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and did not return.

Trotz said “every day has been” a positive step in Backstrom’s recovery. The Capitals star first returned to the ice Thursday, working on his conditioning with an assistant coach. He did not take part in the Capitals’ morning skate for Game 1, though he was ruled a “game-time decision” before sitting out. 

In Backstrom’s absence, center Lars Eller has been promoted to the second line, where he has been very productive. He scored a power-play goal in Game 1 and led Washington’s forwards in ice time.

Trotz said Saturday he was “optimistic” Backstrom would return before the Lightning series was over. 

The Capitals lead the Lightning 1-0, thanks to a 4-2 victory on Friday.

“Very simply, you have to let go of Game 1,” Trotz said. “There’s nothing wrong with being greedy at this time of year. Your focus has to be on getting to four [wins] as fast as you can. We have an opportunity tonight to try and do that, and know that Tampa Bay is going to bring their A game tonight.”

Game 2 is Sunday at 8 p.m. at Amalie Arena. 

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