The Washington Capitals lost their top two remaining centers in the third period Tuesday against the New York Islanders. The Capitals are already playing without Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is on the NHL’s COVID unavailability list.
Both Backstrom and Eller suffered apparent head injuries.
Backstrom was injured late in the first period after absorbing a hard dump-in to the face at center ice. Backstrom would briefly go back to the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he sported a massive bruise on his left cheek and blood on the shoulder of his jersey.
You good, buddy? pic.twitter.com/f3tKNLXTDi
— jan (dad) (@lesbijans) January 27, 2021
Bloody Backstrom in the box. pic.twitter.com/oAjykKCfCi
— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) January 27, 2021
Backstrom would take regular shifts in the second period and most of the third before leaving the game with 3:30 left.
Nicklas Backstrom just went down the tunnel again. 3:30 left in the third period.
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 27, 2021
According to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, Backstrom was hit by a high shot from Jakub Vrana during his final shift.
Nick Backstrom's final shift came late in the 5-minute major and he went to the front of the net and was hit by a Jakub Vrana's high shot, but difficult to tell where it hit him on replay.
Puck was cleared, he skated to bench and eventually went to locker room,
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) January 27, 2021
Here was Backstrom’s shift chart for the game.
Meanwhile, Lars Eller absorbed a check from behind by Islanders forward Leo Komarov. Eller’s head slammed into the boards. After spending time on the ice, he woozily left the game on his own power. Komarov was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding.
Leo Komarov gets a five minute major penalty for boarding Lars Eller, who has left the game. Sees numbers entire way and doesn't let up or try and avoid hit. @NHLPlayerSafety should probably be reviewing this one.. pic.twitter.com/Ve1AYwPott
— NHL Safety Watch (@NHLSafetyWatch) January 27, 2021
Eller presumably went into concussion protocol and would not return to the game. The play happened with 10:59 remaining in the third.
Afterward, Peter Laviolette had no update on either player. The Capitals have a day off Wednesday, so we may not learn more of their status until Thursday.
“I haven’t talked to the trainers yet,” Laviolette said.
Regardless, the Capitals, while double-shifting Michael Sgarbossa and Nic Dowd, managed to win with a last-minute goal by Justin Schultz. The Capitals players that were out injured tonight included:
What a gutsy win.
Screenshots courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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