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Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

After missing 11 games, Ilya Kovalchuk returns Saturday for Devils vs Panthers

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 12:05 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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After missing 11 games, Ilya Kovalchuk returns Saturday for Devils vs Panthers

NEWARK, N.J. - Offensive catalyst Ilya Kovalchuk is returning to the New Jersey Devils' lineup for Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers.

Kovalchuk discussed his return before the opening faceoff of a game that could knock the Devils out of the playoff race.

If the Devils lose in regulation, they will be eliminated from the post-season just a year after playing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Kovalchuk injured his right shoulder during a game against the Panthers on Mar. 23 and missed the last 11 games. The Devils' playoffs hopes took a major hit while he was out. They went 1-6-4, with the only win coming on Thursday night against Philadelphia.

Scoring was a factor in the slump. The team had 19 goals in 11 games.

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That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

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