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Joe Pavelski skating again, return for Stars still uncertain

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars

Apr 17, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16) is helped off the ice by a Stars trainer and defenseman Miro Heiskanen (4) after Pavelski is hit by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (not pictured) during the second period in game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski skated with some teammates in another step before he can return to the playoffs from concussion protocol.

However it was still uncertain when he might be able to play again.

Coach Pete DeBoer said it was “a great sign” to see Pavelski skating in a light workout with scratched and inactive Stars players, but that he’s still not available to play. Pavelski got hurt one week earlier when he banged his head hard on the ice after a crushing blow from Minnesota defender Matt Dumba in the opener of the best-of-seven series that is now tied at 2-2.

Game 5 is in Dallas.

“He’s not available yet, but the fact that he’s taking this step, this is the first time back with a group of guys on the ice, that’s important,” DeBoer said.

“There’s all kinds of steps you have to take and see how you react. ... The first one’s light exercise and then a little heavier and then people around you and then contact. So he’s doing all the right things.”

The 38-year-old Pavelski, whose 64 playoff goals are the most among U.S.-born players, didn’t travel with the team to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4. But he skated on his own while back at home and called DeBoer while the team was in Minnesota.

“We conversed between games,” DeBoer said. “He’s involved, he’s watching the games.”