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Knights' Theodore returns from 35-game absence vs. Predators

G Fiume / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore returned to the lineup Thursday versus the Nashville Predators after missing 35 games.

Theodore hadn't played since Nov. 22 because of an upper-body injury. He underwent surgery to address the issue.

Vegas went 18-13-4 in his absence and occupied the second spot in the Pacific Division heading into Tuesday's action.

"Great to be back, it's been a long time," Theodore said before the game. "The freshness is there and I feel good."

He added, "At no part did they want to rush me back. It's a long season. Obviously it's tough taking a break right in the middle, but the most important part of the season is now."

Theodore tallied four goals and 18 points in 20 games before suffering the ailment while averaging just over 23 minutes of ice time.

The 28-year-old should provide a boost to Vegas' power play. Ten of his points this season came on the man advantage, and the Golden Knights' power play ranks 23rd in the league with a 17.4% success rate since Theodore was ruled out.

"We'll probably be cleaner on the exits, maybe some easier entries in the neutral zone," coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked what he expects from Theodore's return. "His ability to move the puck, find people at the right time, is just exceptional. ... I would assume we'll see more offensive growth in our game just because that's his strength."

Theodore has consistently been one of the Golden Knights' top blue-liners. He was Sin City's second-most utilized player during last year's playoffs and led all Vegas defensemen with 13 points in 21 games.

The Anaheim Ducks traded Theodore to the Golden Knights during the expansion draft in 2017. He is now Vegas' all-time leader in goals (65) and points (265) by a rearguard in 417 games.

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