Backstrom, Wilson ready to make season debuts for Capitals

Jan 6, 2023, 7:16 PM | Updated: Jan 7, 2023, 11:06 am
FIEL - Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) celebrates his second goal of the game with t...

FIEL - Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) celebrates his second goal of the game with teammate Nicklas Backstrom (19) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers on March 28, 2021, in Washington. The Capitals say Backstrom and Wilson are ready to play. The team said Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, that the pair are being activated off injured reserve to make their respective season debuts. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson are finally ready to return for the Washington Capitals.

The team said Saturday that Backstrom and Wilson are being activated off injured reserve to make their respective season debuts. The playmaking center and power winger are expected to play Sunday when the Capitals host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Backstrom had offseason left hip resurfacing surgery on a nagging injury that had hampered his ability to skate. He’s just the second NHL player to return from the operation, following Ed Jovanovski in 2014.

“I’m not going to put pressure on myself,” Backstrom said this week. “All I can say is I feel great, and the biggest thing for me is I have no pain, that I’m able to skate and move the way I want to. Hopefully that’s enough.”

Wilson underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He was injured in Game 1 of the Capitals’ first-round series against the Florida Panthers on May 3.

“My expectation is that I have to be where I was before,” Wilson said. “the only acceptable outcome. I want to be the player that I was before, so this whole process I’ve had that in mind and that’s been my goal.”

Two of the organization’s longest-tenured players have been rehabbing and ramping up to return for several months. Despite missing Backstrom, Wilson and Washington has rebounded from a slow start to move into a playoff position midway through the NHL season.

There has been a buzz around the locker room in recent weeks as Backstrom and Wilson started taking part in practices, shed no-contact jerseys and inched closer to playing again.

“To have those guys on the mend and on their way back is exciting,” said winger T.J. Oshie, who recently returned from a six-game injury absence. “There’s a lot of guys that have been working super hard to keep us in a solid position for when they get back, and I can’t say how good of a job everyone else has done with a lot of us being out for most of the season. It’ll be nice to get them back and have myself and them carry a little more of the load.”

To make room for their returns, the Capitals put Joe Snively on waivers and assigned fellow young forward Aliaksei Protas to Hershey of the American Hockey League. If Snively goes unclaimed and clears, he can be assigned to Hershey on Sunday.

To open up the necessary salary cap space, defenseman John Carlson, who is out after taking a puck to the face Dec. 23, went on long-term injured reserve. There is no timeframe for Carlson to come back.

___

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, center, reacts while speaking toTerry Bradshaw, left, ...
Associated Press

Analysis: Mahomes, Hurts set for historic matchup

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Black quarterbacks have come a long way in the NFL since Fritz Pollard became the first to play in the league in 1923 and Doug Williams was the first to start and win a Super Bowl following the 1987 season. Now, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts will be the first Black QBs […]
1 day ago
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton (21) speaks with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick M...
Associated Press

Bengals’ Ossai laments late hit in AFC title loss to Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Joseph Ossai stood in front of his clean-out locker inside Arrowhead Stadium, while Bengals teammate B.J. Hill stood by for support, and lamented a mistake Sunday night that could easily haunt the defensive end for the rest of his career. The Kansas City Chiefs were driving for a potential winning […]
1 day ago
Kansas City Chiefs place kicker Harrison Butker (7) is lifted in the air after his game-winning fie...
Associated Press

Super Bowl 57: Chiefs, Eagles meet for title in Arizona

Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. All he needed was a little shove. Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 […]
1 day ago
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie (21) tackles Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow...
Associated Press

Burrow comes up short of leading Bengals back to Super Bowl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Joe Cool’s calm demeanor for the Cincinnati Bengals melted on a frigid night against the Kansas City Chiefs. The brilliant Bengals quarterback was sacked five times, threw two interceptions and was unable to drive his team downfield late in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game. That gave the […]
1 day ago
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo drives past New Orleans Pelicans' Jaxson Hayes during the fi...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo scores 50 for Bucks; Pelicans lose 8th in row

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo says he wants to keep producing outstanding performances that he can show his kids one day when they’re old enough to appreciate them. The two-time MVP added one more to the list Sunday night. Antetokounmpo scored 50 points while playing only 30 minutes as the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a […]
1 day ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes signals teammates during the first half of the NFL A...
Associated Press

Chiefs top Bengals 23-20 on last-second kick for AFC title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was forced to rely on his badly sprained right ankle rather than his strong right arm when the Kansas City Chiefs were desperately driving with a chance to win the AFC championship. The All-Pro quarterback, missing three wide receivers to injuries and battered himself, took off on a […]
1 day ago
Backstrom, Wilson ready to make season debuts for Capitals