Lightning's Kucherov, Stamkos not expected to return before playoffs

Watch Steven Stamkos pull off a pretty curl and drag around Patrick Kane before ripping the puck past Kevin Lankinen.

Tampa Bay Lightning stars Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov joined the team for practice in regular uniforms but will not play in the team's final four regular season games.

It was Stamkos's first appearance at practice in a month while Kucherov has now been cleared for full contact, head coach Jon Cooper told reporters, according to Joe Smith of The Athletic. Cooper added that both players are working on building their conditioning up before returning to game action during the playoffs.

Kucherov has not played a game all season after having hip surgery in December, a procedure that came with a five-month recovery timeline. Stamkos has been on long-term injured reserve since April 8 but the team has not disclosed what injury he is dealing with.

Stamkos missed all but one period in the team's run to the Stanley Cup last season after suffering a core muscle injury. He had 17 goals and 34 points in 34 games this season.

The Lightning return to the ice Wednesday against the Dallas Stars. Tampa is currently third in the Central Division with 73 points, two back of the Florida Panthers and four back of the Carolina Hurricanes.

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