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Lightning D Sergachev added to roster for must-win Game 4 against Panthers

Mikhail Sergachev Tampa Bay Lightning Mikhail Sergachev - The Canadian Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was a surprise addition to the lineup and had an assist in the Lightning's Game 4 win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night after being out since early February with a broken left leg.

Sergachev had surgery one day after he got hurt during a game at the New York Rangers on Feb. 8.

“I felt like a hockey player again.” Sergachev said after the Lightning avoided elimination with 6-3 victory over Panthers. “A little bit tired, obviously. I haven’t played for a little while."

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper had said before the playoff series started that the top-four defenseman would miss the matchup. But in his pregame media session Saturday, Cooper indicated that some roster decisions would be made after the pregame skate.

The home crowd gave Sergachev a roaring ovation when introduced in the pregame starting lineup.

"The roar just kept going on,” Cooper said. “It was a stirring moment.”

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said the ovation gave him “chills."

“You guys don’t get to see what goes on behind the scenes and the amount of work that goes into coming back from an injury like that, and it’s impressive,” Stamkos said “The timeline is impressive. Everything he’s done is extremely impressive, And to go out there and play and jump into a series when we were down and on the ropes, it was a huge boost for our team..”

Tampa Bay trails 3-1 in the series; Game 5 is at Florida on Monday night.

Sergachev appeared in 34 regular-season games, picking up two goals and 17 assists. He played 17:03 on 27 shifts Saturday.

“I found out yesterday the doc cleared me and it was a coach’s decision," Sergachev said. "So, I stayed at the rink longer waiting for coach to say yes or no and he said yes. I got very excited and I honestly couldn’t really sleep last night. It felt like a first NHL game again.”

Defenseman Darren Raddysh, limited to 13:11 of playing time in Thursday's Game 3, was scratched.

Defenseman Haydn Fluery, who hasn't appeared in game since being in a scary center-ice collision in the third period of a game at Pittsburgh on Apr. 16 with referee Steve Kozari, is practicing, but remains out.

Kozari, taken off on a stretcher following the collision, is back working in the playoffs..