Washington Capitals star defenseman John Carlson will make his miraculous return to the lineup on Thursday night when the Caps host the Chicago Blackhawks — exactly three months after suffering a fractured skull after taking a slap shot to the head on Dec. 23.

The 36-year-old has recovered from a skull fracture and laceration of the temporal artery he sustained in the terrifying injury, according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. After being cleared to begin practicing with contact on Monday after skating with his teammates for the previous week and a half wearing a non-contact jersey, Carlson was a full participant in Thursday morning’s skate.

“It feels great,” Capitals’ John Carlson said ahead of his highly anticipated return. “It feels like a normal routine again, normal just stuff that you’re used to. I think that’s the hardest part is coming in at different times, being in different spots, being away, being home. It doesn’t feel the same, and I’m glad to be back here now.

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You put in a lot of work all summer long, all season long, all rehab long, whatever it is, you want to go out there and use it. I think that’s what we all want to do is play the game we love and have fun with it and that’s what I’m going to be doing.”

The 33-31-8 Capitals are fighting for their playoff lives, trailing rival Pittsburgh Penguins by six points for the second wild card spot in the NHL’s crowded Eastern Conference with just 10 games remaining.

They’ll hope that the triumphant return of star John Carlson will be just the tonic to string a few wins together and make a push for the East’s final playoff position.