Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was back on the ice at the team's practice facility in Brossard on Friday, just over three weeks after fracturing his vertebra and suffering a concussion.
Pacioretty joined teammate Andrei Markov and strength coach Pierre Allard for a 20-minute skate in full equipment, just days after beginning off-ice workouts.
"It is part of the protocol, it's the beginning of his rehabilitation," said coach Jacques Martin.
Pacioretty suffered the injury when he was slammed into a stanchion by Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara at the Bell Centre on March 8. The NHL did not punish Chara for the hit, which caused an uproar in Montreal where police launched a criminal probe into Chara's actions.
Defenceman Jaroslav Spacek also practised for the first time since suffering a knee injury that required surgery on March 4. He will continue practising and will travel with the team to New Jeresy but will not play Saturday night. Martin hopes to get Spacek back for at least one of the team's final three regular-season games next week. He's missed 11 games since the injury.
Forward Jeff Halpern skipped Friday's practice for a therapy day and will not travel with the team; coach Martin saying his condition is day-to-day.
The Canadiens face the Devils in New Jersey on Saturday, holding the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 41-30-7 record and 89 points.