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Victor Hedman returns to Lightning practice in Sweden

The defenseman missed two games and the first two practices in Stockholm with an injury
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman skates during Tuesday’s practice at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. [Kinsey Jenke | Tampa Bay Lightning (handout)]
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman skates during Tuesday’s practice at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. [Kinsey Jenke | Tampa Bay Lightning (handout)]

STOCKHOLM — Swedish hockey fans and Lightning fans can take a sigh of relief. Victor Hedman is back on the ice.

The defenseman missed the first two practices in Stockholm, and the two games before that, with an injury. But he skated with the team on Tuesday, which is a good sign for the games Friday.

“Looking at practice for two days wasn’t what I was expecting when we were coming over here,” he said. “So it was fun to get out on the ice.”

Coach Jon Cooper said Monday that Tuesday’s practice would be an important one for Hedman. With the team off on Wednesday, it would be hard to see Hedman play if he hadn’t returned by Tuesday. And there he was on the ice with the rest of the Lightning. Hedman didn’t participate in drills but that’s to be expected after a week off the ice.

Hedman said it’s encouraging that he got on the ice, but he is still day-to-day as far as playing on Friday. Cooper said the schedule works in Hedman’s favor as far as having a day off and then practice later in the day on Thursday.

“We’re bringing him along slowly,” Cooper said. “All I know is how he said he felt on the ice. He said he felt good.”

Hedman left last Tuesday’s game against the Rangers after the first period. He played the whole period, including a power play shift that ended with 1:34 left. There was no apparent sign of injury. Cooper said later the lower-body injury was a little of both a lingering issue and something that came up in the game.

Before the team even left New York, Cooper said he didn’t expect this injury to keep Hedman from playing in Sweden.

His return is a relief to the Lightning, as Hedman is the team’s top defenseman, and the league, as he’s one of the two headliners of the Global Series 2019 in Sweden. The two games of sold out crowd are no doubt encouraged they will in fact see one of the best Swedish players in the NHL take the ice this weekend.

Extra goalie

The Lightning brought in an extra goalie in case of emergency. Scott Wedgewood joined the team on Tuesday.

He hasn’t officially been recalled. The league made an exception for both teams to bring a third goalie. If someone gets hurt, it’d be difficult to get a goalie from Rochester or Syracuse quickly.

Wedgewood wasn’t with the team previously because Syracuse played three games this weekend. He bussed back from Hershey, Pa. with the team then flew to Newark and from there to Stockholm. It’s been a wild past 36 hours, but he got a trip to Sweden out of it.

“I never thought I’d be here,” Wedgewood said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.

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