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Caps' Backstrom misses first NHL game

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Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had played every possible game since entering the NHL in 2007 -- all 341 of them -- until Wednesday night.

Backstrom, the fourth pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, sat out the Capitals' game against the Edmonton Oilers with a thumb injury. The 23-year-old has his left hand in a cast, but team officials said Wednesday it was to help him "rest" the injury.

"We just want to protect his thumb," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the media after the morning skate.

Backstrom had played in all 313 regular-season games and 28 playoff contests since his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2007.

Backstrom been bothered by the injury since being slashed by Pittsburgh on Feb. 21, and he left Monday's game at Tampa Bay after falling on the hand. Boudreau said the injury is not serious and that he should miss only a game or two.

Backstrom has 313 points (86 goals, 227 assists) in his 313 regular-season appearances, including 55 points in 67 games this season after getting 101 in 82 games in 2009-10. He also has 30 points in hia28 career playoff games.