The Washington Times - January 30, 2012, 11:37PM

TAMPA, Fla. | It has been one of those seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning, with injuries combining with some horrid goaltending performances to drive expectations downward. But on Tuesday night, they’ll get a big piece back in defenseman Victor Hedman.

Hedman, who has been out since Dec. 23 with a concussion, was cleared for full practice contact and took part in everything Monday with his teammates. He’ll be back in the lineup Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals, coach Guy Boucher confirmed.


It’s just a lot of fun being back and being able to skate full-out,” Hedman said. “I don’t feel the symptoms anymore and it’s an awesome feeling.”

The 6-foot-6, 229-pound Hedman admitted that perhaps he needs a couple more practices to feel game-ready, but he’s ready to play. He skated a lot last week and then did off-ice workouts in the gym over the weekend. Monday was another significant step in the process.

But the No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft won’t be right back into a top role right away.

He hasn’t played in a long, long time. So we’re not going to throw him in there and play against the first lines and play 28 minutes [Tuesday],” Boucher said. “We’re just going to slowly get him in there and give him minutes he can handle and tasks that he can handle.”