After 13-game absence, Burns set to return for Sharks tonight


Brent Burns is back.

Burns, the defenseman-turned-forward, will likely play for the first time in 13 games tonight as the Sharks host Tampa Bay in San Jose.

“He’s going to come off of [injured reserve], so there’s a real good chance that he will play,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “We’ll see how he is when he comes to the rink, but he’s telling me now that he’s ready.

“He looks ready, and right now he is.”

Burns’ return to the lineup should be a huge boost for the Sharks. He had eight points in eight games prior to getting hurt and was a dynamic presence on a line with Joe Thornton and rookie Tomas Hertl, providing exceptional skating given his size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and ability to punish defensemen on the forecheck.

“He just adds so much for the forwards up front,” Thornton said of Burns. “He’s a big body that moves very well, gets in on the forecheck real well, [and] makes our lineup that much better.”

The Sharks are coming off an extended layoff — they haven’t played since Sunday’s 5-1 loss to Chicago — and should be very well-rested for a Lightning team that’s lost two straight to start its four-game Western road swing, dropping games in Phoenix and Los Angeles.