Nicklas Backstrom, the Washington Capitals' superb first-line center, has been placed on injured reserve, the team announced on Wednesday. Backstrom can be activated from the list at any time, but for now, he will not play against the Pittsburgh Penguins and beyond. He will be replaced on the roster by AHL call-up Tomas Kundratek.
Backstrom was injured when he was hit in the head by an elbow from Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque last week. Concussion tests proved to be inconclusive, but Backstrom missed the team's next two games, both losses to the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Backstrom watched Wednesday's morning skate from the bench.
"We're being cautious," head coach Dale Hunter said. "He's not feeling 100 percent, so we [are] just being careful."
Backstrom has arguably been Washington's top player this season, with 13 goals and 29 assists in 42 games this season. In his absence, Marcus Johansson will likely play on the top line with Alex Ovechkin.