Defenseman Kris Letang has returned to the club’s lineup after being sidelined since Jan. 29 due to a stroke. Letang played with the NHL team on April 9 for the first time since suffering the stroke and said that he felt pretty good overall.

He admitted that there are some areas of his game he needs to improve in, but he was still happy with his performance considering it was his first taste of action in a couple of months. Letang played for the Penguins in their 4-3 shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings and earned an assist in 22:30 of ice time.

He realizes that he still needs to get his timing back and isn’t sure if that will take a week or two. The defenseman now has 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points on the season in 25 games. He said he’s glad to be back for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which get underway on April 16.

Letang picked up the assist in the third period when he carried the puck through the neutral zone and past a defender at goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. However, Gustavsson couldn’t control the rebound and it went to forward Jussi Jokinen who put it into the net.

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said Letang played a good game, but it’s understandable that he’s not in peak condition at the moment.

"There were a couple times, I think it was in the overtime, 4-on-4, you saw him backing up with the puck and he just kind of ran out of room with his execution and just kind of getting fore checked in the corner. It wasn't a play you would normally see from Kris. But to me, he's been out a long time, he's been out a couple months, and he looked pretty darn good out there.”

Letang said he greatly appreciated the ovation he got from the home crowd when he played his first shift of the contest. He added that it was an emotional night and the fans understood that his injury will take some time to fully recover from.

The defenseman was also happy that the Red Wings provided him with a good physical test for his first game back. Letang has missed over half of the NHL’s regular season due to the stroke and several other injuries.

He’s frustrated at missing so much time this campaign, especially after being nominated for the James Norris Trophy last season as the league’s best defenseman.

He was sidelined for the first nine games this season due to a lower body injury and missed 10 more games in December when he suffered an upper-body injury.

The 26-year-old native of Montreal, Canada has 54 goals and 174 assists for 228 points in 420 career regular season games. He also has 13 goals and 34 assists for 47 points in 80 playoff contests.


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