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Monday, February 24
Updated: May 20, 8:10 PM ET
Yzerman plays first game since last season

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Steve Yzerman made his first appearance of the season Monday night when the Detroit Red Wings captain took the ice 54 seconds into a game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Steve Yzerman
Steve Yzerman won nine of 15 faceoffs Monday night.

Yzerman, activated just before the Red Wings' 5-4 victory, missed the first 61 games this season following offseason knee surgery. The 37-year-old forward, normally a center, took faceoffs but played left wing with Luc Robitaille on the right side and Boyd Devereaux in the middle.

"I really enjoyed being back on the ice,'' Yzerman said. "I was curious to see how I would feel.''

In the first period, Yzerman played six shifts totaling 3:46. He won four of six faceoffs and didn't record a shot. He took 18 shifts in the game, totaling 13:17 of ice time. He won nine of 15 faceoffs and didn't record a shot.

"I felt better in the game than I expected,'' said Yzerman. "The knee felt about how I expected. I was more comfortable out there that I thought I would be.''

Yzerman's first shift was uneventful. His last game action was Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals last June when he captured his third championship with Detroit. His return drew a huge roar from the crowd when he came onto the ice.

"There's no words to explain (Yzerman's return),'' Red Wings goalie Manny Legace said. "It just feels so good to just have him sitting here in the dressing room with his uniform on. To have him sitting on the bench ... he's the greatest leader I've ever seen.''

Yzerman received a loud greeting from the unusually big crowd that was present for warmups. Then he was given a standing ovation when he came out with the team minutes before the game.

"I thought he played a real solid game,'' forward Brendan Shanahan said. "Took some important faceoffs for us and took some contact. I though his stride looked good. If that was my first game coming back from surgery, I'd be happy.''

The prognosis for Yzerman, who had an osteotomy -- a realignment procedure -- on his right knee on Aug. 2, was a six-month recovery period. He has spent his entire career with the Red Wings and already is the longest-serving captain in NHL history.

Yzerman is ninth on the NHL career list with 658 goals, and in seventh place with 1,662 points.

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