Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom practiced with the team March 27, two days after suffering an upper-body injury, and expects to play in the next game.
"Absolutely," Backstrom responded when asked after practice whether he would play March 29, when the Caps will host the Boston Bruins.
The Capitals are battling for a Stanley Cup playoff berth and can't afford to lose Backstrom's production. He has 13 goals and a team-high 57 assists.
Only Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and San Jose's Joe Thornton have more assists than Backstrom. On the Caps roster, only captain Alex Ovechkin has more total points (72) than Backstrom.
Backstrom was injured March 25, when Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty checked him early during the second period. Backstrom struck the boards just past the Caps' bench, then landed awkwardly on his left shoulder and did not return.
"I didn't feel good after that hit," Backstrom said. "I feel way better today. I was able to practice, full practice, so that's a good thing."
Backstrom, who has compiled 36 power-play assists, said he had tried to avoid Doughty.
"I saw he was there," he said, "and I was trying to jump around on the outside, but hit the edge of the board. Bad luck, but what's important is I'm feeling better now and looking forward to the next game."