Buffalo, N.Y. — Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson (Ann Arbor) is returning to the lineup for the first time since he was suspended by the NHL more than two months ago for alcohol abuse.
Coach Peter Laviolette announced Watson will play in Nashville’s game Tuesday night in Buffalo. The decision comes two days after Watson was recalled from the minors, where he scored four goals in two games with AHL Milwaukee.
Watson has missed 27 games since being suspended on Jan. 29. He entered the second stage of the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program because of what the NHL and the players’ union described as “ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.”
Watson began the season serving an 18-game suspension after pleading no contest to a domestic assault charge in July.
His girlfriend issued a statement in October taking blame for the incident in the parking lot of a gas station.
Nashville has three games remaining and entered the final week of the regular season in a three-way race to win the Central Division title.
Lightning tie Wings’ record
The Tampa Bay Lightning added another impressive milestone Monday, picking up their 60th win of the season with a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
The Lightning, who play their final three games on the road, are just the third team in NHL history to win 60 games in a season.
The other teams to win at least 60 regular-season games in a season are the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens (60-8-12) and the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (62-13-7).