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Stastny practices, hopes to return for Golden Knights against Islanders

NEW YORK — Paul Stastny could be back in the Vegas Golden Knights lineup as soon as Wednesday against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).

Stastny, a 32-year-old center who signed a three-year contract with Vegas on July 1, has missed 29 consecutive games with a lower-body injury sustained in a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 8. He has been skating for two weeks and participated in his first full team practice at Barclays Center on Tuesday.

Stastny skated as the center on the third line between Tomas Nosek and both Oscar Lindberg and Ryan Carpenter.

“Just getting a full practice, it’s almost too much thinking trying to remember the drills from early in the season,” Stastny said. “But I feel good, excited to be back whether it’s next game or sometime on this trip. I’m excited for that.”

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant didn’t want to say Stastny was good to go yet because the Golden Knights need to wait to see how he handles the recovery from what was a long, hard practice in Brooklyn.

“He’s close, real close,” Gallant said. “We’ll see how he gets along today and we’ll make a decision tomorrow at some time. There’s a possibility he’s going to play on this trip. We’ll see when he’s ready, when he feels good, but we want to make sure.”

Video: VGK@COL: Haula nets Stastny’s great pass

The Golden Knights start a four-game road trip against the Islanders. They also play the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday, the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

“He’s great at face-offs, he’s a good two-way player, and we haven’t seen a lot of him,” Gallant said of Stastny. “He’s been out for a long time, but he’s a very important player. We think he’s an elite two-way player and he brings a lot to our club.”

Vegas has turned things around lately, going 8-2-0 in 10 games since Nov. 21 after starting the season 9-12-1. Stastny played in the first three games and didn’t have a point before being injured in the loss to the Sabres.

He was undercut by a sliding Jack Eichel late in the third period and his right knee buckled underneath him. 

“I felt a pop right away,” Stastny said. “It was almost a like a chop block in football, so I felt a pop. It just felt loose. It’s the end of the game, so your adrenaline is still going, but the minute I got off the ice and took a couple steps, I knew. I had something like this in the past and I knew the extent of where the injury was. I was more worried that it could be an ACL and be done for the season, but I was fortunate it wasn’t that.”

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