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Stone and Pietrangelo practice as defending champion Golden Knights prepare for Dallas in playoffs

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights are getting back some key pieces just in time for the NHL playoffs, including captain Mark Stone and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

Stone, who lacerated his spleen Feb. 20 against Nashville, returned to full-contact practice Saturday in preparation for Game 1 of the first-round playoffs Monday at Dallas. He had been skating in a non-contact red jersey.

“We'll see how he responds with regard to his availability for Game 1,” Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said.

Stone was not made available for comment.

Pietrangelo had a non-COVID illness in late March, McCrimmon said. He returned to games March 30 at Minnesota and April 2 against Vancouver, then was diagnosed with appendicitis. After undergoing an appendectomy, Pietrangelo sat out of practices while rehabilitating.

He said he was fully healed.

“It took a while,” Pietrangelo said. “I wasn't too sure what the problem was. I'm glad to get that behind me just to recover. We took our time doing it the right way to make sure there was nothing to worry about. The last thing you want to do is go into a playoff game with that in the back of your mind.”

Also, Chandler Stephenson (undisclosed) and William Carrier (upper body) returned to practice. Stephenson missed the final two games of the regular season and Carrier didn't play in the final 11 games.

Anthony Mantha (undisclosed) remained in a non-contact jersey, and Jonathan Marchessault and Ben Hutton took maintenance days.

“Returning to health is going to be one of the big keys for our team,” McCrimmon said. “We're going to be healthier going into the playoffs than we have been for a while.”

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

Mark Anderson, The Associated Press