VANCOUVER — With the Washington Capitals‘ lineup already depleted with injuries, forward Brett Connolly went to the locker room early in the second period Thursday night and went through the concussion protocol, Coach Barry Trotz said. Connolly skated to the bench in apparent distress after being checked hard into the glass by Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson, and he did not return to the game.
“We’ll have a better update tomorrow,” Trotz said. “We just kept him out.”
Three players — Andre Burakovsky (thumb), Matt Niskanen (hand) and Tyler Graovac (“upper body”) — stayed behind in Washington because of injuries, and top-line center Nicklas Backstrom missed Thursday night’s game because of an illness. The Capitals won’t practice in Edmonton on Friday, and Backstrom is considered “day-to-day,” though it seems likely he’ll play against the Oilers on Saturday.
Washington has just one extra forward on this trip — Chandler Stephenson, who scored the first NHL goal of his career in his season debut in Vancouver. If Connolly has to miss any game time, that’ll be another hit to a lineup that is already without Burakovsky for six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on Tuesday. Washington is on a two-game losing streak entering back-to-back games in Alberta this weekend, and the team has scored just three goals in the past two games.
Connolly plays on Washington’s third line, and he scored his only goal of the season in the Capitals’ season opener against Ottawa. After scoring a career-high 15 goals along with eight assists with Washington last year, the Capitals were hopeful Connolly would again provide that secondary scoring this season.
Washington was the healthiest team in the league last season with just 49 man-games lost to injury.