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Nicklas Backstrom is expected to play for Capitals against Devils tonight

Mar 18, 2011, 12:51 PM EDT

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Last night’s 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators was a tough one for the New Jersey Devils to take, especially because they must turn around and face the Washington Capitals in Newark tonight. They’ll have to beat a closer-to-full-strength Capitals squad, too, as Nicklas Backstrom will be back in the lineup for the first time since March 7th, according to Mike Vogel.

Backstrom has missed five games with a fractured thumb. According to his lofty standards, he’s had a slow 2010-11 season, with only 55 points in 67 games after his career-best 101 points in 82 games last season.

The Capitals have been playing well amid a variety of injuries, as they went on a nine-game winning streak before Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Washington can clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes lose in regulation tonight. Of course, this game is much bigger for New Jersey, who cannot afford many more losses at this point.

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