SAN JOSE -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene said he still doesn't have a target date for his return, but he took what looked to be another step in that direction Tuesday morning at HP Pavilion.
Greene, who underwent back surgery in late January to repair a herniated disk, was on the ice for the Kings' optional skate and stayed long after most of his teammates had left.
Greene was cleared for contact Monday, but he spent most of his time Tuesday skating hard and getting back into shape.
'You want to try to get into as good of shape as you can be if you want to get a chance to come back," Greene said. "It felt good. It's feeling better and better every day. It's just getting more and more used to skating. Getting a little bit of timing back, but I think it's still going to be a battle."
Greene said his goal is to get some playing time down the stretch so that he'll be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It's still up in the air, so hopefully I can get in before the end of the season," he said. "I'm really no good if you're trying to get your bearings in playoffs. That's not the time to be finding your game. So it would be nice to get in at the end of the year, but we'll see what happens."
Greene was injured in the Kings' Jan. 19 season-opener against the Chicago Blackhawks while delivering a hit in the first period. He played the rest of that game but hasn't played since.
Greene's teammates, who face a key game Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks, are excited by the thought of getting him back in the lineup.
"He's a big part of the locker room, a vocal leader," captain Dustin Brown said. "On the ice, I knew when he was at (the Edmonton Oilers), I didn't like playing against him. That's probably the best compliment you can give a guy like Greener. Big body. Plays the game the right way."
Kings forward Jarret Stoll said Greene's grit and ability to block shots would be a huge help to the team.
"We've seen it time and time again whether it's with his face, his leg, his body, whatever," Stoll said. "It doesn't matter. Whatever it takes to win. That's how you win. You have guys like that.
"He's a great leader. We missed him this season, for sure. We're going to be very, very happy and glad to have him back."
Here's how the lineups could look Tuesday night when the Sharks face Kings at HP Pavilion:
TJ Galiardi - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Raffi Torres - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
Andrew Desjardins - Scott Gomez - Adam Burish
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Brad Stuart - Jason Demers
Notes: The Sharks, who beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 on the road Monday night, didn't skate Tuesday morning. After that impressive win at Phoenix, they'll likely stick with the same lineup.
Justin Williams - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan - Brad Richards - Kyle Clifford
Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi - Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin - Keaton Ellerby
Notes: The Kings have lost three straight road games and will try to stop that slide against a Sharks team that's 14-1-5 at home. "Our road record is something we need to improve upon," Brown said. "We all know we're capable of doing it. We've been road warriors the last two or three years." The Sharks beat the Kings 4-3 at HP Pavilion on March 13. One night later at Staples Center, the Kings hammered the Sharks 5-2.