It was hard to wipe the smile off Nicklas Backstrom's face Thursday. But that shouldn't be all that surprising considering the Washington Capitals star skated three days in a row, a significant step forward in his recovery from a concussion that has sidelined him since early January.

"As soon as we see him around skating, we're all smiles too," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "Just the fact that he's on the ice is huge. We're all pretty happy about that."

But those feelings were quickly overshadowed. About 10 minutes into practice, forwards Alex Ovech-kin and Mike Knuble collided at full speed during a drill.