TAMPA, Fla. - Lightning forward Steven Stamkos plans to return to the Tampa Bay lineup Thursday, four months after breaking his right leg.
Stamkos, who was forced to miss the Sochi Olympics and the Lightning's past 45 games, tweeted Wednesday morning that he'll play against the Buffalo Sabres after getting cleared by doctors.
"Just left the doctors office," Stamkos wrote on his verified Twitter account. "Got the green light. See you tomorrow Bolts fans. Excited to be back!!"
Stamkos broke his right tibia Nov. 11 when he crashed into the goalpost in Boston. The 24-year-old Markham, Ont., native was selected for Team Canada as he rehabilitated that injury but ultimately was not ready to play.
"Steven saw Lightning medical director Dr. Ira Guttentag this morning and based on the latest X-ray, a clinical exam and his functionality on and off the ice we are pleased to announce he is cleared to play." Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said in a release. "We look forward to seeing him on the ice with his teammates tomorrow night."
Stamkos has 14 goals and nine assists in 17 games this season. In 390 career NHL games, he has 222 goals and 187 assists.
"Today is obviously an exciting day for me," Stamkos said. "Adversity is a good test and you're going to have to go through it in your career, so you hope it makes you a better player and a better person. I have a new perspective on my career as a professional athlete and how hard you have to work to maintain that.
"I'd like to thank the training staff for their dedication and hard work, ensuring that I got back into the lineup as quickly as possible."