Sport Lightning's Stamkos eyes return for 1st round of playoffs

01:42  11 april  2018
01:42  11 april  2018 Source:   Associated Press

Steven Stamkos injury update: Lightning captain leaves game with lower-body injury

  Steven Stamkos injury update: Lightning captain leaves game with lower-body injury Lightning forward Steven Stamkos left Sunday's game against the Predators with a lower-body injury and will not return.

All Eyes Photo Blog. The Feed. Lightning ’ s Andrei Vasilevskiy returns to form in record-setting win. RECOMMENDED READING. Stamkos , 26, also said there is a "real possibility" he won't play at all in the playoffs . Lightning first - round playoff tickets on sale Friday.

Lightning ' s Stamkos returns for Game 7 vs. Pens. In 48 career playoff games, Stamkos has 15 goals and 20 assists for 25 points, including a minus-2. Prior to Game 7, Cooper wouldn't announce whether Stamkos would be in the lineup.

FILE - In this March 30, 2018, file photo, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) warms up before playing against the New York Rangers in an NHL hockey game, in New York. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is back on the ice and hoping to be ready for the start of Tampa Bay's opening-round playoff series against the New Jersey Devils. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, stf/JJ)© The Associated Press FILE - In this March 30, 2018, file photo, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) warms up before playing against the New York Rangers in an NHL hockey game, in New York. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is back on the ice and hoping to be ready for the start of Tampa Bay's opening-round playoff series against the New Jersey Devils. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, stf/JJ)

TAMPA, Fla. — Steven Stamkos is back on the ice, eager to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning into the NHL playoffs.

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The five-time All-Star missed the last three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. He returned to practice this week and hopes to be ready Thursday for the start of a first-round series against the New Jersey Devils.

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For your eyes only. Before the start of the series, each He now shares the franchise lead for such games with Stamkos , Marty St. Louis and Brad Richards, who is now with Detroit. Lightning RW J.T. Brown left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury, the team said, and did not return

Stamkos gets 1 st goal in 11 months, Lightning beat Penguins. Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins. Steven Stamkos ' return for Game 7 erases questions about willingness to stay with Lightning .

"It was obviously tough," said Stamkos, who watched the Lightning go 2-0-1 down the stretch to hold off the Boston Bruins for the Atlantic Division title and No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"You want to be in those games. But the more important games are now, and I just want to make sure I feel as good as possible heading into the playoffs," the team's second-leading scorer added. "Hopefully it keeps progressing and I can feel good come Thursday."

Stamkos, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, rebounded from missing most of last season with a knee injury to bolster the NHL's most prolific offense with 27 goals and a career-high 59 assists for 86 points in 78 games.

The 28-year-old center anticipates a tough matchup against the young Devils, who won all three regular-season meetings between the teams.

Nikita Kucherov hit forces Sami Vatanen from game; worthy of suspension?

  Nikita Kucherov hit forces Sami Vatanen from game; worthy of suspension? Devils' defenseman out of the game after big hit.Another night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs produces another questionable hit that will certainly be debated.

All Eyes Photo Blog. The Feed. Stamkos gets, gives well wishes. With the playoffs set to begin tonight, the Lightning will be missing captain and leading scorer Steven Stamkos . Lightning first - round playoff tickets on sale Friday.

Draft: 2008 1 st round ( 1 st pick) by the. Tampa Bay Lightning . Stamkos will return Thursday in Boston after sitting out Monday due to a lower-body injury. Advice: The Lightning captain is having a fantastic season with 27 goals and a career-best 59 assists.

"It doesn't really matter where you finish (in the standings) any more. All these other teams are their own different animals come playoff time," Stamkos said. "It's a fresh start once you get into the playoffs. Regular season is regular season. We all know that."

Stamkos' health figures as a key to the series.

He missed 65 games after undergoing surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee last season, when the Lightning narrowly missed the playoffs. Two years ago, a blood clot discovered near his collarbone sidelined the center from late in the regular season until Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, when Tampa Bay lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh.

The Lightning didn't practice Tuesday, but coach Jon Cooper said the team remained hopeful of having Stamkos back for Game 1 against the Devils.

Stamkos is optimistic, too, though with his history of injuries in recent seasons he has no illusions about being completely healthy when he returns.

"Listen, my body will never be 100 percent, regardless, going through the stuff I've been through," the No. 1 overall pick from the 2008 draft said. "So there's no point asking about percentages."

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Why Golf Channel is broadcasting NHL playoff games .
Fans will get two watch two games, including a potential elimination game between the Sharks and Ducks, on Golf Channel on Wednesday night.Because of scheduling conflicts on NBC’s usual NHL-showing networks, CNBC and USA Network, the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils game (7:30 p.m. ET) and the Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks game (10:30) will be shown on the Golf Channel. NBC Sports Network is airing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m) and Nashville Predators at the Colorado Avalanche (10 p.m.

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