Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom returns

Updated: April 1, 2012, 10:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Nicklas Backstrom is back for the Washington Capitals.

The top-line center returned to the lineup Saturday night in a 3-2 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens, his first game since suffering a concussion nearly three months ago.

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Backstrom took the opening faceoff and played 19 minutes, 40 seconds but was held without a point and had a minus-1 rating.

"I've got to play the same way that I usually play," Backstrom said. "I can't be worried about getting hit again, and that's what I did from the start and it felt all right, but I can be a little bit better. My lungs were a little tired there after a while."

Backstrom was injured when he was elbowed in the head by Rene Bourque in a win over Calgary on Jan. 4.

Even though he missed 40 games, Backstrom came back in fifth place on the team with 42 points and offered a pick-me-up for the Capitals.

"He's one of those guys that lightens the room up," Washington forward Troy Brouwer said. "He's very well-liked by everybody on the team and you always have a good time when you're with him, so whenever you get to see him back -- plus the smile on his face, how he's been feeling and acting around the room the last couple days, knowing he was going to play tonight -- it's a big pick-up."

Without him, the four-time defending Southeast Division champions have flirted with missing the playoffs. However, with Saturday's win and a loss by the Buffalo Sabres, the Capitals have sole possession of eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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