SAN JOSE -- For the first time since experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired right knee, Sharks center Joe Thornton returned to practice with the team on Tuesday.
The 39-year-old called himself "day-to-day," as he continues to take antibiotics for an infection, the cause of swelling in his knee. He told reporters he is awaiting the results of a blood test, and seeing how his knee responds after Tuesday's practice session.
"They just want to make sure [we] get rid of if it now," Thornton said, "so that I don't have to deal with it in December, January, February ... So just squash it now, get me healthy, and then I'll be ready to go."
Thornton was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 7 after experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired right knee. The 39-year-old played 14:09 in the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 5., but did not join the team for the rest of the trip.
Although Thornton said he skated for around 15 minutes on Monday, Tuesday was the "first day that I kind of pushed it." He said the swelling in his right knee cleared up well beforehand, and that he "still felt strong" on the ice.
Thornton told reporters he thought it was a possibility he could draw back into the lineup on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer termed Thornton as "doubtful" for Thursday, and said the team is waiting for the antibiotics to clear out the infection -- however long that takes.
"I’d never count against him," DeBoer said. "Bottom line is we have to let the antibiotics do their job, and their job doesn’t happen overnight.”
Thornton remains on injured reserve, and the team recalled rookie center Dylan Gambrell from the AHL's San Jose Barracuda to take Thornton's place on the active roster.
Gambrell practiced on Tuesday, one day after picking up points -- a goal and an assist -- on each of the Barracuda's regulation tallies in a 3-2, shootout win over the Tucson Roadrunners at SAP Center. The 22-year-old originally took Thornton's place on the roster when the veteran center was initially placed on injured reserve, but did not suit up for the Sharks on the road trip.
Thornton skated alongside Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane, his linemates in the season opener against the Anaheim Ducks two weeks ago, and through much of the preseason. Gambrell, meanwhile, was on a line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.
Kevin Labanc skated with Pavelski and Kane in the last game of the Sharks' road trip on Sunday, while Tomas Hertl played with Couture and Meier. Labanc and Hertl missed practice on Tuesday for "nothing major," according to DeBoer, and will be back on the ice on Wednesday.
Whether Thornton -- or Couture, who appeared hurt after a collision with Rourke Chartier near the end of practice -- is back as well, remains to be seen. As he repatedly told reporters, he is, after all, day-to-day.
"Hopefully I wake up tomorrow [with] no swelling, and we'll go from there," Thornton said.