David Pastrnak was back on the ice against the Islanders on Tuesday, playing his first game since suffering a thumb injury that required surgery. He had not played since Feb. 10. He played 14:19 and his legs were there, but his hands and timing will be a work in progress.

“Rust. Good legs. The puck was finding him. It looked like he was half a second off in his decisions, a little off net in his shots,” Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I like that we won the game and we didn’t have to press him into any more minutes than necessary.”

He had three shots on net and wasn’t afraid to pound a one-timer on the power play, though it went wide.

“I felt pretty good physically and the pain reaction was really good,” Pastrnak said. “It’s just the timing. We had a lot of chances as a line, we just didn’t capitalize on chances I would usually. But the good thing is we didn’t need to today.”

He was wearing a splint under his glove, and he’s not sure when he can get rid of it.

“I’m just going to wear it until I’m fully comfortable to take it off,” said Pastrnak, who began the game on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. “So far it doesn’t bother me, so I don’t see any point rushing.”

He expects the repaired thumb will be a target for a while.

“I’ve been working on my speed so I can just skate away,” Pastrnak said. “It’s hockey, right? It’s a physical game and you have to be ready for anything. So that’s why you never rush your injuries coming back and you take full recovery time, so when you come back you’re 100 percent.”

RED WINGS: The team signed goalie Jimmy Howard to a $4 million, one-year contract extension.

The deal keeps Howard in the fold for next season. The 34-year-old Howard has played for the Red Wings his whole NHL career. The former University of Maine standout is third on Detroit’s career list in wins (240) and fourth in shutouts (24).

Howard played in his 500th career game on Feb. 14 and was named to the NHL All-Star game for the third time in his career this season.

Howard is 19-20-5 this season with a 3.05 goals-against average.


LIGHTNING 5, CAPITALS 4: Andrei Vasilevskiy made a franchise-record 54 saves, Nikita Kucherov scored twice and NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning won its sixth consecutive game by beating host Washington in overtime in a potential playoff preview.

Victor Hedman scored 3:01 into overtime to keep the Lightning rolling in their first game since clinching the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite having nothing to gain in the standings, they were up to the task in a showdown against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Vasilevskiy was on top of his game as Washington set a franchise record with 58 shots. He stopped countryman Alex Ovechkin on a rush chance midway through the third period during one of the finest performances of his career, and rebounded in OT after allowing Evgeny Kuznetsov to tie the score with 52.6 seconds left in regulation.

MAPLE LEAFS 4, SABRES 2: John Tavares and Austin Matthews each had a goal and assist, and Toronto won for just the second time in six games, beating the Sabres at Buffalo, New York.

Mitchell Marner and Zach Hyman, into an empty net, also scored and the Maple Leafs inched to within four points of the idle Boston Bruins in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division.

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