Nicklas Backstrom did so well on faceoffs with an injured hand he even surprised himself.

Its the playoffs Ted Williams Jersey , Backstrom said after the Washington Capitals 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night that evened the Eastern Conference final at two games apiece. Youve just got to grind. It felt good on the first couple faceoffs, so I just kept taking them.

Returning from a four-game absence with a right hand injury, Backstrom won six of nine faceoffs and looked more like himself as the night wore on. With Game 5 looming Saturday night at Tampa Bay, Backstroms improvement is one of the keys to Washington bouncing back from consecutive home losses.

I should get back to normal, Backstrom said after playing 18:51 night in his return. I feel really good. I dont know (how normal) exactly. If I didnt feel good, I wouldnt play. The doctors wouldnt let me play Mariano Rivera Jersey , either.

Team doctors cleared Backstrom to play around lunchtime, and by pregame warmups he was drawing an ovation from fans thrilled to see him back in the lineup. The crowd roared when Backstrom won the faceoff on his first shift, and he got back into a rhythm centering the third line.

It was so fun to be back out there, Backstrom said. Its where everyone wants to be. You want to be on the ice. Its just too bad we didnt get the win.

A hard-luck loss included two penalties by fill-in No. 2 center Lars Eller, who has five in the past two games. Coach Barry Trotz didnt mess with his top two lines, but Backstrom could easily be promoted to skate with Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie in Game 5.

Were going to need him pushing forward Jaire Alexander Youth Jersey , especially now that he has a game under him, goaltender Braden Holtby said. Hell take on more minutes and a bigger role. You could tell as the game went on he was getting more and more comfortable, so hes going to be a much-needed asset for us in these next few games, for sure.

Backstrom appears ready to do that. The 30-year-old Swedish center hadnt played since taking a slap shot from Pittsburghs Justin Schultz on May 5, but if it were up to him, he would have been back much sooner.

Nick has been champing at the bit for a while now Authentic Martavis Bryant Jersey , said Trotz, lauding Backstroms game. Weve been holding him back a little bit, but hes ready to go.

Even on a team featuring Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals have gone how Backstrom has gone for the better part of a decade. Hes the second-longest-tenured player on the team, and this was his first career game in the conference finals.

As a hockey player, you want to play Jimmie Foxx Jersey , Backstrom said. It feels nice to be back.

Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur has re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys, the team he initially joined after a workout in 2005.

Ladouceur will be going into his 14th season, the second-longest tenure among current Cowboys. He has played in 205 consecutive games and made 1,875 snaps without a miscue.

The only current Dallas player with the team longer is 11-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, who was a third-round pick in the 2003 draft.

Last year Witten matched the franchise record by playing his 15th season with the Cowboys. The 35-year-old Witten is already signed for his 16th season in 2018.

Ladouceur went to the Pro Bowl in 2014. Last season marked the completion of a five-year contract extension.

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