Capitals F Nicklas Backstrom returns from left hip injury

CHICAGO (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom is in for the Washington Capitals. Evgeny Kuznetsov is out.

Backstrom made his season debut Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks after being sidelined by a left hip injury.

Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and center Nic Dowd also returned for Washington after they were removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Capitals also placed forward Anthony Mantha on long-term injured reserve. Mantha had shoulder surgery last month.

While Backstrom, van Riemsdyk and Dowd played against the Blackhawks, the team said Kuznetsov was unavailable because of COVID-19 protocol. The Capitals also have forward Garnet Hathaway in the protocol.

The 29-year-old Kuznetsov has nine goals and 21 assists in 28 games this season.

Backstrom, who turned 34 last month, skated again Wednesday morning. The Swede had a team-high 38 assists and 53 points in 55 games last season.

“You’re talking about our leading scorer last year, somebody who’s been a mainstay offensively for this organization for a long time,” coach Peter Laviolette said after the team’s morning skate. “So when you add a player back into the lineup that is skilled like he is and who can make plays like he (can), it’s a benefit.”

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