Sweat dripped from Nicklas Backstrom's hair just minutes after he stepped off the ice following some tiring battle drills with Washington Capitals teammate Jay Beagle. It was another step in Backstrom's preparation to return to game action after missing almost three months with a concussion.

Physically, Backstrom looked ready.

"We said the other day that he looks as good as the other guys that have been playing all year," assistant coach Dean Evason said.

Gauging his lungs, the 24-year-old said, "I haven't felt better."