NASHVILLE -- Defenseman Ryan Ellis could return to the Nashville Predators lineup against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, FS-TN, NHL.TV).
Ellis has not played this season while recovering from offseason knee surgery. He participated in practice in Nashville on Monday and was paired with Roman Josi.
"Today was a good practice," Ellis said. "We'll see what the coaches have to say and what they want to do with the lineup, but it's been a long road. A lot of work, a lot of long days. But we'll see what the coaches have in store."
The Predators kept defensemen Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban paired at practice and shifted Mattias Ekholm to a pair with Anthony Bitetto. Ekholm has been paired with Josi for most of the season.
Ellis has been practicing without a non-contact jersey since Dec. 20. His original timetable to return from injury was between Christmas and New Year's Day.
"He's been practicing really well," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Today was a good day for him, a good practice. I haven't spoken to him since practice ended, but he's right there and ready to go. So if today was a good day, and I haven't talked to him, then we'll discuss that and talk about it for [Tuesday]. If he needs more time, then we'll give him more time. He's had a lot of good days in a row. Today looked like a good day."
The Predators withstood the absence of Ellis. They're second in the Central Division with 51 points, one behind the first-place Winnipeg Jets.
Ellis had 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 71 regular-season games in 2016-17 and had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 22 games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help the Predators reach the Cup Final for the first time.
"He's been a top-flight defenseman for us," Laviolette said. "We've missed him. He plays a lot of situations and a lot of minutes. A character guy in the room, a character guy on the ice, and when he does come back, we'll be happy to have him."
Ellis believes it may take a few games for him to get to top speed. The Predators begin a three-game road trip against the Golden Knights on Tuesday.
"I'm sure there will be some rust," Ellis said. "You can't prepare for anything in a game other than playing a game. Hopefully, a couple games in I'll try to feel back to my normal self, but I'm sure there will be some rust out there."
When Ellis returns to the lineup, one area he could boost is a power play that is third in NHL (25.0 percent).
"He's a huge part of our club," Predators forward Ryan Johansen said. "We're really excited for him to get back in the lineup. It'll be a lot of fun seeing him back out there with us."