BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres center Tyler Ennis was grateful for the mere opportunity to return to the ice for practice Thursday after enduring several difficult months recovering from the effects of a concussion.

“It felt great. I mean, I can still skate. I figured that out,” said Ennis, who scored 23 goals for the Portland Pirates in the 2009-10 season. “Not playing hockey is strange. And it’s the opposite: When I’m on the ice, it’s the greatest feeling.”

Though he’s been ruled out from playing in Buffalo’s final two games, Ennis took a major step in his recovery by rejoining his teammates for the first time since being hurt in the second period of a 5-2 loss at Washington on Dec. 30. He was going after the puck along the boards in his own zone when he turned his back and was hit from behind by Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals.

Ennis got up slowly, rejoined the play and checked Nicklas Backstrom into the end boards. Upon leaving the ice, Ennis went directly to the locker room after experiencing his second head injury in a little over a month.

The game was Ennis’ fourth after he missed 12 games following a high hit by St. Louis defenseman Robert Bertuzzo.

What followed was a frightening stretch. Ennis experienced seizures, had to be shuttled because he wasn’t allowed to drive, and on the worst days wondered whether he might play again.

“It’s really a difficult thing. A lot of different emotions, a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “To say I wasn’t scared at some point would be probably a lie.”

Ennis said he’s symptom free, feels 100 percent, and excited to resume his career.

“It gave me time to kind of reflect, appreciate what I have and give me that much more motivation and excitement for whenever I get back,” he said. “I wish we could play 82 more games.”

Ennis is a three-time 20-goal scorer known for speed and being fearless in traffic.