Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is curious how he'll feel - and play - in tonight's exhibition game against Nashville.

"I think everybody is," assistant coach Todd Richards said.

Stamkos, 27, hasn't played in a game since tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee Nov. 15 against Detroit. He has said his knee feels the best it has since surgery, and has had no restrictions since training camp started last week.

But the true test will be a game, something you can't replicate.

"Obviously it's been a while since I've played in a game - I'm anxious and excited to get this one going tonight," Stamkos said. "Training camp has gone extremely well, team has worked hard. I feel better than I thought I would coming in. It's all been positive, and this is just another step in getting prepared for Oct. 6."

Stamkos is one of many big names in the Lightning lineup, as Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are making their exhibition debuts. So are Chris Kunitz and Alex Killorn. Touted defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev - who was impressive with a plus-3 and a goal in his debut Wednesday - is back in the lineup.

While Stamkos feels good in practices and scrimmages, there's no way to replicate a real game scenario, and so he's curious to see how he responds, especially mentally.