March 19 (UPI) -- Boston Bruins star forward David Pastrnak returned to practice Monday for the first time since he underwent thumb surgery in February.
The 22-year-old forward has missed the last 16 games with a left thumb injury he sustained after a team sponsorship dinner Feb. 10. He is expected to return this week, according to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.
"Not saying that he will [play], but he'll make that decision in conjunction with the medical staff as early as [Tuesday] after morning skate," Cassidy told reporters. "I would assume he'll be a game-time decision. ... I suspect if he doesn't play [Tuesday] that Thursday will be a real good day."
Pastrnak was a full participant in the Bruins' practice Monday ahead of the team's game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday. The Bruins play the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
"It's a lot of fun, obviously, to be back on the ice with the guys," Pastrnak said. "We kind of recognize that these guys are your family and friends, so it's really good to be back."
The Bruins (43-20-9) are second in the Eastern Conference with 95 points. Boston is four points ahead of the third-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs with 10 games remaining for both teams.