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Sami Lepisto hoping to return before postseason

Blackhawks defenseman Sami Lepisbench during Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 loss Dallas Stars Thursday February 23 2012 United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

Blackhawks defenseman Sami Lepisto on the bench during the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Thursday February 23, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 1, 2012 8:26AM

A few weeks ago, defenseman Sami Lepisto sounded relieved and confident about getting an opportunity to play regularly for the Blackhawks after being a healthy scratch for 43 games, including a 15-game stretch.

Now, all Lepisto can talk about is doing everything he can to strengthen his injured left leg so he has a chance to play again this season.

“It feels good to be back to skating,” Lepisto said after taking part in his first practice Thursday since getting injured March 6 in St. Louis. “I feel OK, but not 100 percent yet. ... I think it’s just the strength. I’m almost there.”

Lepisto was playing in his 14th consecutive game — his longest stretch of action — when Blues forward David Perron fell on his leg and injured it. For Lepisto, it was an unlucky injury during his most positive stint.

“You’re out for half the season, and then when you get to actually play, you get injured,” Lepisto said. “It’s probably the worst timing. It’s been a tough season, but you just have to battle through it.”

But this has been more than just a tough season for Lepisto, a puck-mover who was signed to a one-year deal to provide depth. In early February, Lepisto, 27, told the Sun-Times that he felt he probably didn’t get a fair shot to crack the lineup.

If anything, Lepisto should be commended for staying positive while being a healthy scratch in 43 of the first 54 games as others rotated in and out, including enforcer John Scott, now with the Rangers.

“For sure, it’s been the toughest season of my career, but it’s still young,” said Lepisto, who has a goal, three points and a plus-3 rating in 25 games. “The [playoffs] are about to start. Anything can happen.”

Initially, Lepisto was ruled out indefinitely by the Hawks, but he’s optimistic he can return to the lineup before the postseason.

“It was a good thing that it wasn’t anything major,” Lepisto said. “I was lucky at that point.”

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