As days stretched into weeks and weeks morphed into months and months stacked up to almost two years, uncertainty and doubt might as well have been symptoms of the back injury that leveled Coyotes winger Steve Sullivan out of the game six years ago when he was with Nashville.

“There are some days when you’re having a rough day that you think, ‘This is probably it,’” Sullivan said. “But the next day was probably a good one, and you bounce back from it. But there were some days during that stretch of two years that I thought that was it.”

And yet, he aimed for a return.

Ten days before he would rejoin teammates on the ice, Sullivan and the Predators celebrated Jason Arnott for playing in 1,000 career games. At a team party, Arnott’s wife announced to the crowd he was the 232nd player to reach that mark.

“At that moment, that was a goal that I set for myself,” Sullivan said. “I was at 720-odd games, and I think at that moment there is when I thought this was attainable.”

Guided by that motivation, Sullivan overcame his back issues and extended his NHL career to become the 285th player to amass 1,000 games — where else? — in Nashville Thursday in a 7-4 win for the Coyotes.