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Kovalchuk: Friday practice one of his 'better days'

Friday, 04.19.2013 / 1:50 PM / News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Kovalchuk: Friday practice one of his 'better days'
Ilya Kovalchuk called practice on Friday one of the best since his injury, meaning there's a chance the Devils could welcome him back Saturday.

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ilya Kovalchuk called practice Friday one of his best since he hurt his shoulder almost four weeks ago, meaning there is a chance the New Jersey Devils could have their high-scoring right wing back in the lineup as early as Saturday afternoon when they face the Florida Panthers.

Kovalchuk is still hesitant to make any predictions.

"We were taking one-timers and this is definitely one of the better days in a long time," Kovalchuk said. "The coaches will decide and we'll see [Saturday]."

Ilya Kovalchuk
Right Wing - NJD
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 27
SOG: 113 | +/-: -2
The Devils on Thursday snapped a 10-game winless streak (0-6-4) that coincided with Kovalchuk's absence. They are still mathematically alive in the Stanley Cup Playoff race; after a 3-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers they remain six points out of eighth place with five games remaining.

They could fall to eight points out if the New York Rangers win at the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

"We're still fighting for our lives for a playoff spot and we want to ice the best possible team we can," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "Obviously [Kovalchuk] would be a part of that."

Kovalchuk did not skate on a regular line during the regular portion of practice Friday and was instead rotating in with Andrei Loktionov, Krystofer Barch and Tom Kostopoulos. Kovalchuk stayed on for a lengthy extra skate with those players as well as defensemen Alexander Urbom and Anton Volchenkov.

"I didn't skate with the contact at all for three weeks and [Friday] we were doing 1-on-1s and 2-on-2s," Kovalchuk said. "I feel pretty good and we'll see how I respond [Friday night] and [Saturday] morning we'll decide."

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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website
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