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Will Lightning get Luke Glendening, Tyler Motte back to open playoffs?

BRANDON — The Lightning received some promising injury news the day before they open the postseason.

In the team’s final practice before their first-round series against the Panthers, forwards Luke Glendening and Tyler Motte skated Saturday morning at TGH IcePlex, an encouraging sign that both could be available for Game 1 Sunday in Sunrise.

“You need depth,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “And guys skating (Saturday) is not completely indicative of what’s going to happen (Sunday), but anytime you’re going into the playoffs you want to have your full arsenal ready to go. And unfortunately, this last few games of the year we got a little nicked up. But nothing that’s super serious, so we should be OK in that regard.”

Glendening left Monday’s game against Buffalo with an apparent shoulder injury and missed the regular-season finale Wednesday against Toronto. Motte hasn’t skated since taking a blocked shot to his leg April 11 against Ottawa.

Both are important bottom-six forwards and pair on the team’s fifth-ranked penalty kill (83.3%). In addition, Glendening is tied with Steven Stamkos with a team-best 56.0% faceoff win percentage.

Cooper indicated that if Glendening and Motte show they have their timing and conditioning back on the ice, both should play against the Panthers.

Glendening said after the practice he was confident he will play in Game 1.

Sergachev a full practice participant

Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev won’t be available for the first round, but he took a major step forward in his return by practicing for the first time without a red no-contact jersey.

Sergachev is now a full participant in practices, so he can give and take hits and participate in all drills.

Sergachev had surgery on Feb. 8 to stabilize a broken fibula and tibia that included placing a metal rod in his left leg. He said he’s been ahead of his doctor’s timetable at every turn. His main goal now is conditioning his body to get back into game shape.

The Lightning haven’t made Sergachev’s timetable public, but the further they advance in the playoffs, the more likely his return becomes.

Tomkins to serve as backup goaltender

Jonas Johansson will not be available for the start of the series, making Matt Tomkins the backup goaltender behind Andrei Vasilevskiy, who typically is in net for every postseason game.

Tomkins, a 29-year-old NHL rookie, went 3-2-1 with a 3.33 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in six starts for the Lightning this season. He stopped 34 of 38 shots in Wednesday’s 6-4 win over the Maple Leafs.

Johansson is out with a lower-body injury. He worked with goaltending coach Frantz Jean before Saturday’s practice, then conferred with head athletic trainer Tom Mulligan afterward.

Excitement level is high

As the Lightning prepared for the postseason the past two days at their training facility in Brandon, there was a buzz that Cooper likened to the beginning of the season, but “a little step ahead of that” because the team has an opportunity to compete for another Stanley Cup championship.

“Just the energy pre-playoff, there’s just something different about it,” Cooper said. “You can run the worst practice in the world as a coach, and it will still look good because the guys are really into it.”

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