Boston Bruins center Marc Savard, who had not played this season due to post-concussion syndrome, was cleared by the team and made his long-awaited return Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Savard entered the game 2:26 into the first period and was greeted by a standing ovation. He centered a line with rookie Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. Savard has led the Bruins in scoring three of the past four years. Injuries limited him to 41 games last season, and he missed the first 23 games this season.
"He didn't look like he missed a beat," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I liked his game from start to finish and his stamina was great."
Though Savard didn't have a point in 15:45 of ice time, the Bruins posted their best offensive output of the season in the 8-1 thrashing of the Lightning.
"Great to have a guy like him coming back for him personally and for the hockey team," Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said.
As Savard spoke to the media after an optional skate Thursday morning at TD Garden, it was clear that the Bruins center was itching to be in the lineup against the Lightning on Thursday night.
"I think at the end of the day, skating every day and after practice and stuff, it gets long and gets a little monotonous, because you're doing the same thing," said Savard, who also thanked the team brass, medical staff and coaches for not letting him rush back. "When I am able to play, I can't wait. It's going to be an exciting time."
The team gave him that clearance just a few hours before game time.
Savard said earlier Thursday that he was looking forward to the possibility of playing with Seguin on his wing. Savard compared Seguin's speed to that of former teammate and linemate Phil Kessel, who is now with the Maple Leafs.
"From watching him he reminds me a lot of Phil with the speed and stuff like that," Savard said. "That's a guy that I can obviously take advantage of if he's with me. It would be nice. He's a good kid and he's improving every day."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's James Murphy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.