VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo skated with the team Wednesday morning for the first time since a lower-body injury forced him from a Dec. 22 game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Luongo, who had been on the ice with goalie coach Roland Melanson a couple other times already, won't dress against the Lightning, but hopes to be back by the weekend.
"I felt really good out there today," said Luongo, adding he was first hurt stopping a shot from Evander Kane and left after feeling it again making another save a few minutes later. "I knew it wasn't serious given the fact I could still move around and skate off on my own."
Luongo isn't the only Canucks player nearing a return.
Though coach John Tortorella would only say "day to day" when asked about injuries, top-line forward Alexandre Burrows skated in a visor and protective piece guarding the jaw he broke on Dec. 1. Defenseman Alexander Edler, who has missed 11 games with a sprained right knee, and Jordan Schroeder, out since Oct. 19 with an ankle sprain that required surgery, were also back on the ice skating before leaving when the full morning skate started.
Though most of the attention was on scoring star Steven Stamkos and a comeback from a broken leg that included skating on consecutive days in Vancouver, the Tampa Bay Lightning are focused on getting other players back first.
Forward Ryan Malone (ankle) and defenseman Eric Brewer (arm) will each return against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, and former Canucks defenseman Sami Salo (lower body) is expected back during this four-game Canadian road trip.
"When other teams look at the lineup they may not have recognized a lot of names, so maybe we sneak up on them a little with a lot of young, talented players that work hard and smart," said Malone, who has missed 16 games since Nov. 22. "It's made it a lot easier to watch while hurt."
Here are the anticipated lineups for the Lightning, again expected to dress seven defensemen, and Canucks:
Teddy Purcell – Valtteri Filppula – Alex Killorn
Martin St. Louis – Tyler Johnson – Ondrej Palat
Nate Thompson – J.T. Brown – Nikita Kucherov
Richard Panik – Ryan Malone
Victor Hedman – Radko Gudas
Matthew Carle – Andrej Sustr
Eric Brewer – Mark Barberio
Scratched: B.J. Crombeen, Tom Pyatt
Injured: Sami Salo (upper body), Steven Stamkos (leg), Keith Aulie (hand)
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mike Santorelli
David Booth - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Dale Weise
Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev
Jason Garrison - Kevin Bieksa
Yannick Weber – Frank Corrado
Injured: Andrew Alberts (upper body), Roberto Luongo (lower body), Ryan Stanton (ankle), Alexander Edler (knee), Alexandre Burrows (jaw), Jordan Schroeder (ankle)