SOCHI, Russia - Pavel Datsyuk took a significant step toward playing in Russia's Olympic opener by participating in practice.
Datsyuk, who missed his team's first practice while nursing a lower-body injury, took line rushes between Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov. Alexander Svitov had been holding a place for him.
Coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said through an interpreter Monday he didn't think the injury was serious enough to keep Datsyuk from playing Thursday against Slovenia.
The 35-year-old star centre missed over a month with the injury, returning to play less than 15 minutes each in two games for the Detroit Red Wings prior to the Olympic break.
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said he understood Datsyuk's desire to play in this tournament, adding that he hopes his player and the Russians make the right decisions about his health.