Albeit it was in a red, no-contact jersey, Steven Stamkos joined his fellow Tampa Bay Lightning teammates on the ice for Tuesday's morning skate at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner participated in drills for the first time since breaking his right tibia in mid-November.
Suffering the injury a little more than two months ago Stamkos has become a bit of a phenomena during his road to recovery, as he makes leaps and bounds through each and every hurdle in his rehab.
Stamkos, who said after surgery he felt like he was "never going to be able to get out of his hospital bed," shared that Tuesday's reps were the "best he's felt" yet while out on the ice.
"There's still pain and hesitation in certain movements – cross overs and turns – anything that's going to put a little more torque on that leg," Stamkos said. "But it's improved even from what I've done one and a half to two weeks ago. You just don't want to push it too much that you have a setback."
Again traveling with Tampa Bay, Stamkos skated at the end of an optional morning skate while in Calgary. Yet this was the first time he could actually feel the camaraderie that comes when surrounded by the team in its entirety, which provided a good dose of medicine in his mental recovery and some hope for the Bolts too.
"He definitely lightened things up a little bit and was in the middle of some jokes," head coach Jon Cooper said. "He's a vibrant, fun kid to be around. He has an effect, that's why he's one of our captains."
Cooper said it would be a sort of "mini Christmas" when he finally gets word that Stamkos is ready to return to the lineup.
Whenever that may be, he is ready to continue the Lightning's first-place push that they have impressively managed in his absence.
"I just want to get back out there and help these guys win," Stamkos said. "I think we can really do something special this year and I look forward to contributing to that."
QUICK TO REBOUND
Despite dropping a 3-2 loss in Columbus to the Blue Jackets, Alex Killorn quickly responded to Ryan Johansen's goal 1:21 seconds later to knot the game at one. The Lightning's ability to answer back to their opponents goals quickly has become a staple and this stat has since surfaced:
In the 1:30 following an opponent's goal the Bolts rank second in the league with nine goals scored (not including empty net goals) this season. Through the last 30 days the Lightning rank first in this category with five goals scored.
Seven different players have made it onto the score sheet in this type of situation. Six of those nine goals have also come on the road, which only trails the Anaheim Ducks, who have seven.
OTHER ODDS 'N ENDS
Defenseman Victor Hedman is expected to skate in his 300th NHL game Thursday against the Islanders. His current point total of 26 ties his career-best set during the 2010-11 season. Read more about his five-year progression here.
After missing two games Cooper confirmed blueliner, Sami Salo (lower body), will return to the lineup.
Already on a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists) Mart St. Louis is just four assists shy of 600 in his NHL career.
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