After placing center Evgeny Kuznetsov on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol prior to their game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (8 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market), the Washington Capitals activated center Nicklas Backstrom off of long-term injured reserve in addition to defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk and center Nic Dowd from COVID-19 protocol.
Backstrom, 34, is expected to make his season debut after recovering from a hip injury that did not require surgery and he sustained at the end of last season, when he led the Capitals in assists (38) and points (53) in 55 games.
Dowd, 31, tested positive for COVID-19 and has missed the past four games. Van Riemsdyk, 30, has also been out for that length of time.
Right-wing Garnet Hathaway remains in COVID-19 protocol and did not travel with the Capitals on their two-game road-trip.
Kuznetsov ranks second in the Capitals in goals (nine), assists (21), and points (30) in 28 games this season. He tested positive for COVID-19 twice last season and missed 12 regular-season and two Stanley Cup Playoff games.
In addition, the Capitals placed left-wing Anthony Mantha, who has missed the past 18 games after undergoing shoulder surgery on November 5, on long-term injured reserve. The 27-year-old is eligible to return anytime but has yet to start skating on his own.
By Harrison Brown