New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer will receive an early Christmas gift on Friday when his team plays host to the Dallas Stars at Prudential Center.
Center Travis Zajac, who has been sidelined all season while recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon, will play his first game. Zajac was practicing on the team's third line on Thursday with wings Eric Boulton and Mattias Tedenby. DeBoer confirmed after practice that Zajac, who underwent surgery on Aug. 18, would be in the lineup.
Meanwhile, defensemen Henrik Tallinder (left wrist) and Anton Volchenkov (hand) were also practicing with the team and are probable for Friday's meeting with the Stars. Wing David Clarkson was missing from practice but, according to general manager Lou Lamoriello, is dealing with a personal matter.
The Bergen Record is also reporting that goalie Johan Hedberg will get the nod against Dallas and Martin Brodeur will start against Montreal on Saturday.
Here were the Devils line combinations at Thursday's practice:
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Eric Boulton - Travis Zajac - Mattias Tedenby
Tim Sestito - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen
Bryce Salvador - Kurtis Foster
Henrik Tallinder - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Mark Fayne
Alexander Urbom - Matt Taormina