TAMPA — Brayden Point skated out onto the rink with a small smile.
The 22-year-old center made his way toward the right penalty circle before making his first warm-up shot at the goal. It went in with ease.
Point returns to the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Vegas, after missing Saturday’s game against the Rangers and practice on Monday.
After Point participated in the morning skate, coach Jon Cooper was encouraged but didn’t commit to him playing. At the time he said it was a possibility but ultimately would be a game-time decision.
Point’s morning skate indicated he would return. Typically, the last players off the ice are scratches for that night’s game. But Point coming into the locker room toward the middle of the pack gave a hope he’d be back in the lineup.
The 22-year-old center didn’t see any time on the ice during Monday afternoon’s practice, but assistant coach Derek Lalonde said they were taking things day by day.
Lalonde also wasn’t all too concerned with how the team would have to adjust in Point’s absence.
“It speaks to our depth,” he said Monday afternoon.
The assistant coach was impressed with how the team performed in Saturday night’s matchup against the New York Rangers without the team’s “No. 1 center.”
Point’s return means the Lightning is back to scratching two forwards. Veteran Ryan Callahan has been a healthy scratch in four of the last nine games. That is more than Adam Erne and Mathieu Joseph, the other two forwards Callahan has been rotating with.
Danick Martel and Dan Girardi are the other two scratches in tonight’s matchup against Vegas.
Contact Mari Faiello at [email protected]. Follow @faiello_mari.