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Lightning's Steven Stamkos to play in Game 1 after injury

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos will play Thursday night in Game 1 of his team's playoff series against the New Jersey Devils, coach Jon Cooper announced.

Stamkos had missed the last three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. Cooper said earlier this week that he was hopeful Stamkos would be OK for Game 1, however.

"We said the plan was to play Game 1. So, that's the plan. Looking forward to getting out there and competing with the guys," Stamkos said, according to the team's website. "We haven't strayed away from that. Got a couple good practices in, and it felt good. So, I'm ready."

Stamkos had 27 goals and a career-best 59 assists in 78 games this season after missing most of last season with a knee injury.