LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – The good news is that Mark Stone played Friday night. The better news is that the Golden Knights’ captain emerged from a 7-3 pounding by the San Jose Sharks feeling just fine.
“I was just excited to get back in there,” Stone said after the exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena, the team’s fourth of seven exhibitions before the season starts Oct. 11. “New system, new teammates, so good to get in there.”
Stone underwent back surgery in May after a season in which he missed 45 games, mostly because of an aching disk. Friday marked his first game since a lumbar discectomy.
“You could tell his timing was off,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Mark did some good things. Obviously made some plays on the power play, made some plays with time and space, held the puck well. But he’s just going to have to find his timing.”
Stone, who drew an assist on Reilly Smith’s power-play goal and earned a minus for being on the ice for the Sharks’ first goal, would agree. “Pace was quick,” he said of the Sharks’ aggressive play. “They made you make plays quick. I don’t think my timing was quite there for it.”
But both he and Cassidy feel the more precise play will come with more intensity in practice.
For now, Stone said he felt good after the game. “I probably wouldn’t be talking to you guys right now if I didn’t,” he told a group of reporters. Last season, he felt poorly after games, so Friday night – despite the loss – was a welcome change.
“I was definitely hesitant to start,” Stone said. “Wasn’t super comfortable at the start. But once you get into the thick of the game you forget. It’s what I needed … to get back into the rhythm of being a hockey player.”
The Knights have the weekend off, so Stone planned to rest, see how his body reacts before Monday, the team’s next practice session.
“I’ll give the body a little time to heal, get ready to go for the next practice,” he said. “Now, it’s about getting my timing, getting reps and being ready for opening night.”