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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

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.

For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory