General Manager George McPhee said that the Capitals decided to send Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green back to Washington on Monday prior to the game here in Los Angeles.

Neither Backstrom nor Green was going to play against the Kings, McPhee said, and he would rather they both arrive in Washington tonight rather than fly cross-country with the team after the game and not arrive until early Tuesday morning.

“We’re being cautious with both of them,” Coach Dale Hunter said.

Tonight’s contest will mark the second straight game that Backstrom has missed after he suffered an apparent head injury when elbowed by Calgary’s Rene Bourque.

Backstrom has not skated for three days and while the team continues to list his status as day-to-day, it’s possible the center’s injury is more severe than initially believed.

In the days immediately following the hit, Backstrom took part in two full practices and on Friday both he and Hunter expressed optimisim that the 24-year-old Swede might not even miss a game. Since that morning in San Jose, however, Backstrom has not been on the ice.

Meanwhile, Green will not be in the lineup for the 24th time in the last 26 games after he was forced to leave Washington’s 5-2 loss to San Jose early with tightness in his groin. Green was walking with a limp as he exited Staples Center.

Green played just 7 minutes and 11 seconds against the Sharks before exiting the contest in the second period. The defenseman was only in his second game after missing 23 straight with a strained right groin muscle.

Hunter said that there’s a possibility that either or both Green and Backstrom could skate at KCI on Tuesday, which is a scheduled off day for the team.