Nikita Kucherov back on the ice a welcome sight for Lightning

The injured forward made an appearance at Saturday’s morning skate.
Published Mar. 13, 2021|Updated Mar. 13, 2021

TAMPA — When the Lightning hit the ice for the first time since returning from their season-long six-game road trip, they were greeted by a familiar face.

Star winger Nikita Kucherov was on the ice as part of the team’s morning skate prior to tonight’s home game against the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena.

Kucherov, who is slated to miss the entire regular season recovering from hip surgery, started skating this week and is on track to return for a potential postseason run, Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said Friday.

Kucherov skated on his own before the morning session and did some light work during the practice and even participated in a line rush, putting a one-timer from the right circle into the back of the net.

“It’s great to see him back,” Lightning forward Brayden Point said. “Obviously, it’s great to see him progress. I know he probably misses being out there, we miss seeing him out there. So it was great to see. He’s obviously one of the best players in the world, and with that much time off and he still looks like Kuch, so, it’s pretty impressive.”

Kucherov is still working to get his strength and range of motion back, BriseBois said, before he returns to full practice.

“I think it was good for him,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Kucherov. “We were gone for two weeks so he just gets to watch us on TV. So I think he was pretty excited to be around us. Kuch is a big part of our team, and so anytime we can be around him, it’s great for us, especially coming off that road trip and being able to see progress is being made, he’s starting to feel a little bit better.

“Is he far away from doing the things he usually does out there? Yes. Just to have him with the guys, it’s why we have a close team, a good group. Everyone loves being around each other.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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