Patrice Bergeron ready to go

Updated: May 19, 2011, 11:28 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

TAMPA -- Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who missed the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, returned for Game 3 Thursday night at St. Pete Times Forum.

Team sources told ESPNBoston.com earlier in the day that he would be in the lineup.

Bergeron rejoined linemates Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand, and that unit was on the ice for the opening draw of the game, which the Bruins won 2-0 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Bergeron, who missed the first two games of the series due to a mild concussion he suffered May 6 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers, was medically cleared to play earlier in the day, the sources said.

During his 19:13 of ice time in Game 3, Bergeron won 18 of 28 faceoffs, had two shots on goal and was called for an interference penalty in the second period.

Following the Bruins' game-day skate Thursday morning, coach Claude Julien said the team had not yet made a decision on whether Bergeron would return for Game 3.

"He's feeling pretty good," Julien said. "It's not totally up to the coach to make the final decision. A lot of other things have to happen. I can only give you the same answer as the other day: If he's in the warm-up, it's because he's ready to go."

Bergeron has skated five times this week and hasn't shown any ill effects.

Julien also had announced Wednesday that rookie Tyler Seguin would remain in the lineup. That left Shawn Thornton as the healthy scratch for Boston.

Julien said he liked the Seguin-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder line and that combination stayed intact for Game 3.

That meant Rich Peverley moved to the team's fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille.

"If it is me, it's not the first time, I've been through it before," Thornton said after the skate. "I'll do my job and stay sharp like Tyler did. It's part of the game. I was scratched in Anaheim that time we won the Cup and they don't ask how many games I played, just if I have a ring."

Tampa has been preparing for Bergeron to be back in the lineup. In fact, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said prior to Game 2 that he expected Boston's assistant captain to return then. After the Lightning conducted an optional game-day skate Thursday, they said they expected Bergeron to be back for Game 3.

"He's going to be a big boost to their team," Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said. "We're going to have to play even better with him in the lineup. We're preparing, like last game, whether he's in or out. We're not changing and if he does play, it'll be a tougher test for us."

Milan Lucic did not participate in the team's game-day skate, but Julien said there are no issues with the top-line forward.

"He will be in tonight," Julien said. "During playoffs there are certain things you do, give a guy a timeout for whatever reason. He's going to be in there and there won't be any excuses to his game at all."

While the Bruins' special-teams units were on the ice 15 minutes before last Monday's practice at TD Garden, Seguin drilled Lucic square in the right foot with a one-timer. Lucic went down and was clearly in pain.

When he finally got up, he was favoring his right side and made his way over to the bench, where team trainers checked him out. He returned to practice. After Game 2 in Boston, Lucic was seen walking with a limp in the locker room.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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