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Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning's Tyrell keeps fighting to stay on ice

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM
TAMPA -

The road to recovery from knee surgery is riddled with hardships, doubt and gallons of sweat.

The Lightning's Dana Tyrell experienced all of that twice.

But, like an opposing defender in his path while he is in pursuit of the puck, a pair of reconstructive ACL surgeries on his right knee weren't enough to slow Tyrell. The former second-round draft pick looks as tenacious as ever a year after having the second procedure.

So, scoring a second-period goal and assisting on another during Tuesday's 5-2 victory against Florida felt like a victory in itself.

"It feels good, and I don't think it has even kicked in yet, picking up a couple of points for the team," said Tyrell, 23. "I just want to keep improving and doing the little things to stay in the lineup."

Heading into the abbreviated training camp, Tyrell was not guaranteed a spot on the roster, let alone in the lineup. With an infusion of depth in the organization, jobs were not easy to win, but Tyrell showed he was recovered from surgery.

"Coming into camp, he had to fight for his spot," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "There is a lot of competition right now in the organization, and not only did he have an amazing camp, every time I put him on the ice now in games he's been terrific."

It certainly hasn't been easy for Tyrell to make it back. The road to recovery the second time around was more difficult and took longer than the first. Though the knee is back to full strength, his right leg is not there yet.

"My leg got so small and I lost my muscle so quick, and that's huge,'' Tyrell said. "Obviously, if I don't have my muscle, then my leg isn't very stable. That was the biggest thing. It took me seven or eight months to get that back. And it's still not even as big as my other leg, so that will still take some time.''

Tyrell does extra work in the gym, having changed his workout regimen to regain some strength in his leg. After having surgery last January, Tyrell didn't begin skating until early July.

When the NHL lockout began Sept. 16, Tyrell was not cleared to return to action. He remained in Tampa to work with the Lightning training staff and practice on the ice with the players still in town.

Once he was cleared, Tyrell signed a contract with Banska Bystrica in Slovakia, where he saw his first competitive action in more than 10 months.

"Game mode is different than practice, so I think that helped me out,'' Tyrell said.

Despite getting back to full strength, having some game action under his belt and enjoying a strong training camp, it wasn't enough to get him into the lineup to start the season. He was a healthy scratch the first two games. He made his debut at Carolina on Jan. 22, but he was scratched again as Tampa Bay started a five-game homestand Friday against Ottawa.

He was back in the lineup Sunday against Philadelphia, and now it might be difficult to take him out.

Tyrell's teammates couldn't be happier to see him back on the ice and part of Tampa Bay's 5-1 start.

"Everyone is so happy for him,'' forward Tom Pyatt said. "He was injured there for a while, so to see him come back and score a goal there, he's definitely pretty happy after (Tuesday), and he is fun to play with. He wins races to the pucks, he's a warrior out there.''

He has the scars to prove it.


eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835 Twitter: @erlendssonTBO

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