CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane is expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of Chicago's opening-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
Both Kane and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that the dynamic right wing is ready to return following Tuesday's practice.
''Yeah, that's the plan,'' Kane said. ''It's exciting.''
Kane, who broke his collarbone in February, received medical clearance to play on Monday. Kane practiced with the team on Monday and Tuesday, and skated with former linemates Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg.
Kane missed the final 21 games of the regular season, and the All-Star still finished second on the team with 27 goals and 64 points. The forward was a candidate for the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP - and tied for the league lead in points - when he was hurt in the first period of a 3-2 shootout win over Florida on Feb. 24.
Kane had surgery on Feb. 25. Originally, his recovery was expected to take up to 12 weeks and he wasn't expected to be back before the Western Conference finals - if the Blackhawks advanced that far.
''It's great news and we're happy to have him,'' Quenneville said. ''It wasn't in the cards knowing we had to get through a round or two before he could even be considered.
''He was having an MVP-type of season. Getting him back just makes you have so many more options. His versatility in all areas certainly enhances our team.''
The 26-year-old forward progressed faster than he expected.
''I think all along we were monitoring it,'' Kane said. ''It seemed to just improve week by week.
''So we're at the point right now where it's pretty safe to go out there and try and compete and play.''
Kane doesn't expect restrictions on his flashy, up-tempo style. He had averaged just under 20 minutes of ice time per game before his injury and had resumed skating on his own shortly after surgery.
''I think that's important, too, not only for me but for the team, as well, because I want to feel like I can contribute and produce when I am back in the lineup,'' Kane said. So I think it was important, that reassurance.''