BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins had their captain back on the ice Tuesday morning.

For the first time since suffering a torn PCL in his left knee on October 23, Zdeno Chara skated with his teammates as they practiced at the TD Garden. Chara had been skating on his own the last two weeks, but participated in several game-action drills on Tuesday.

His involvement in such drills, which included several battles for the puck, is a good sign the captain will be back soon.

“I’m excited to be back with the team and able to skate,” Chara said after practice. “It was something I worked really hard for, and the Bruins organizations – doctors, trainers, the medical staff – everybody did a great job to get me where I am today.

“When you miss games, the main priority is to get back out there as soon as possible and as strong as possible,” said Chara. “The medical staff did a great job to identify the problem and the rehab has been a long road, but I think we took every possible step on the way to make sure there are no setbacks. Right now it’s just one of those things we have to maintain and see how it behaves.”

There is still no clear return date for Chara, who was estimated to miss 4-6 weeks when the injury occurred, but a Thursday return against the Chicago Blackhawks has not been ruled out.

“You have to go by feel and by the way you perform. I had a good day today,” said Chara. “My goal is to work really hard every day and give 100 percent effort. When Thursday comes, we’ll see.”

“Right now, I can say I feel more optimistic about Z that he will [play on Thursday],” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after practice.

The Bruins are 11-7-1 without Chara this season, and he was happy to see his team have some success without him in the lineup.

“It was very encouraging. They fought very hard, and you just wish that you could help in those games,” he said. “We can’t take back those game we lost, but we can look ahead and be aware of where we are, and where we want to be.”

Top-line center David Krejci also returned to the ice on Tuesday, skating alongside forwards Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson. Krejci has been in and out of the lineup this season, missing the last eight games, with an undisclosed lower body injury.

While Chara and Krejci were back on the ice, Carl Soderberg, Daniel Paille and Simon Gagne were all absent from Tuesday’s session.

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