NEWARK -- Hit hard by injuries and illness for much of the season, the New Jersey Devils will get a key component back in their lineup Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators when forward Patrik Elias returns after missing five straight games and six of the past seven with a groin injury.
Elias was on a line with Travis Zajac and Martin Havlat at the morning skate.
"I'm better than I was before I came back," he said.
Elias was injured Dec. 2 at the Pittsburgh Penguins. After sitting out the next game against the Toronto Maple Leafs he attempted to return Dec. 6 at the Washington Capitals. He scored a goal in 15:15 of ice time in New Jersey's 4-1 loss but said he came back too soon.
"I wanted to get back and play and help out," Elias said. "Ten minutes in I started getting the same issue again. I tried to go through it again but I couldn't really push. It got worse. The situation we're in, you want to be part of the team, you want to play. I didn't feel horrible, but obviously playing games, doing stops and starts, battling and shooting, it's different than if you go on the ice doing laps. We were a lot smarter this time."
Elias has three goals and 12 points in 26 games.