Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was cleared for contact for the first time all season. 

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was cleared for contact Friday for the first time all season. Backstrom, who has spent the season on long-term injured reserve as he rehabbed his injured hip, was a full participant at Washington's practice and went through all of the contact drills.

The 34-year-old Backstrom had been skating with the team in a noncontact jersey for the past two weeks. Before that, he was skating on his own, working with both Capitals strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish and local skating coach Wendy Marco.

Capitals coach Peter Laviolette reiterated Friday there is no timetable for Backstrom's return, but he continues to progress.

"It's great to have him out there," Laviolette said. "Just watching him out there and seeing the smile on his face ... when you are at the beginning of rehab, that smile isn't always there. It's more the work and what you are dealing with and going through things. To see him out there today was great. It was positive for our group."

T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary were also cleared for contact Friday. Laviolette said Oshie and Sheary are closer to returning than Backstrom and did not rule out the possibility that both could be available for Saturday's game against Columbus.

Oshie has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury. He was placed on injured reserve after he suffered an injury in late November.

Oshie has played eight games this season and has four goals and three assists. Earlier in the year, he missed 10 games with a different injury, which he suffered when he blocked a shot with his right foot in late October.

Sheary, who was placed on injured reserve Friday, has also missed the last six games with an upper-body injury.

The Capitals were also missing a handful of players at Friday's practice.

John Carlson, Garnet Hathaway and Carl Hagelin did not practice Friday and were all taking maintenance days, according to the team. Nic Dowd was also absent because of an illness. The nature of Dowd's illness, including whether it was related to coronavirus, was not immediately released.

Laviolette said there was a "possibility" Carlson, Hathaway, Hagelin and Dowd all miss Saturday's game.

"They weren't on the ice today for a reason," Laviolette said. "So we're going to go in and evaluate them, see what today did for them and then go from there."

Lars Eller has been the only Washington player to deal with a coronavirus case this season. He had to spend 10 days in isolation in Anaheim, California, after testing positive in November. He was symptomatic for the first three days of isolation and made his return against Carolina last Sunday.

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