The Devils had a familiar face rejoin morning skate on Monday. Marcus Johansson participated in his first full practice with the club since he sustained a concussion on Nov. 1 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Johansson has been slowly building up to this point. He has worked out and skated on his own, but on Monday he was cleared to play as he rejoined his teammates for a full practice. He will not, however, play in the evening's game against the Florida Panthers.
"I feel good," Johansson said. "Finally, I feel like normal again. It's good to be out on the ice skating with the guys. You miss that when you're gone. It makes you feel more like a normal person again, but you take it day by day. I need a couple of full practices to get back into it. It's day by day."
Johansson could make his return to game action as soon as Friday, as he will make the team's upcoming road trip to Colorado, Arizona and Columbus.
"You miss hanging out with the guys," Johansson said. "That's a good feeling. We all love what we do, it gets boring after a while when you're missing out on the game. I've been waiting for this for a while. I'm just happy it's moving in the right direction."
Monday's game ends a stretch of seven games in 12 days. New Jersey has gone 3-1-2 in that time frame, and maintains first place in the Metropolitan Division with 32 points.
"We've been able to bank some wins and play some pretty decent hockey considering how tough it's been," Taylor Hall said. "Every team goes through stretches like this. For a lot of teams, it defines their year. I remember last year we were 9-3-3 and then we went on a road trip and lost a few games and lost a lot of ground and from there our season went on us. These are important stretches to find ways to win games and get points."
The Devils will look to bank two more point tonight against the Panthers, hosting Florida for the second time this season. The Devils last defeated the Panthers, 2-1, Nov. 11 at Prudential Center.