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Lightning’s Steven Stamkos joins teammates for power-play work

The captain had only been skating solo throughout training camp until Friday morning.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos, left, on the ice while working on the power play with teammates at the start of practice Friday at Amalie Arena.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos, left, on the ice while working on the power play with teammates at the start of practice Friday at Amalie Arena. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 17, 2020
Updated Jul. 17, 2020

TAMPA — It started as a typical morning for Steven Stamkos. The Lightning captain, who is working his way back from a leg injury, skated solo with athletic trainer Mikey Poirier on Friday morning before his teammates joined him on the ice.

But instead of leaving the ice, Stamkos stayed and took part in the team’s power-play practice.

The group of 12 — broken into two groups of five and two goaltenders — worked on special teams for the first time during training camp for about 15 minutes with assistant coaches Jeff Halpern and Todd Richards.

Stamkos, who started skating alone on Monday, took his normal position on the left side of the ice. He worked on a power-play unit with Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point.

The Lightning captain skating with the group is a good sign that he’s working his way back into the lineup. The team has been playing Point, Kucherov and Carter Verhaeghe on the first line for most of camp.

“He’s inching his way,” coach Jon Cooper said. “We have a few more days of practice here ... and we can start putting him into a few more drills with the team. We’ll slowly start working him in.”

In another group, Tyler Johnson, Patrick Maroon, Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev worked with Richards on the second power-play unit.

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Stamkos left following the power-play session. Afterward, the rest of the team — minus the callups from the AHL — came onto the ice.

Cooper has emphasized the importance of special teams work this week, and the players know the significance of getting those details right, especially following the four-month hiatus.

“You want these guys to play with confidence,” Cooper said. “We’re trying to put guys in the position to succeed right now.”

Earlier in the week, defenseman Ryan McDonagh said special teams can take a little longer to develop during a season. He said the team seemed to get off to a slow start on the penalty kill.

“Getting that chemistry there (is important),” McDonagh said. “It is pretty specific and you can be pretty detail-oriented, so we’re going to work hard at that.”

The Lightning will put special teams to the test in Monday’s Blue-White scrimmage (4 p.m.). Those interested in watching the scrimmage can tune in to the pregame show at 3:30 p.m. on the Fox Sports Go app or on the Lightning’s website.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.