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Salvador returns to practice

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

The Devils got a defenseman back on Wednesday only to lose another one for at least the next week.

Bryce Salvador was cleared for practice and returned to the ice for his first team skate since October. The Devils captain was designated as a non-roster player on Oct. 23 following a death in the family. Five days later he was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 22 due to a non-displaced stress fracture in his foot.

After a long wait, he's finally back to feeling one hundred percent.

"This happened to be the bone that you do all of your pushing and everything off of," Salvador said. "It just happened to be one of those injuries where it was just a bad spot."

No timetable has been set for his return.

"It's just when I can get some skates in," Salvador said. "It's a pretty tough schedule now getting practices. I was pretty fortunate I was able to get it in today. Now we'll just take it day-to-day because the foot itself has healed and so now it's just getting the body used to playing hockey again."

Besides being healthy again, Salvador, who was paired with Marek Zidlicky, was happy to be back with his teammates.

"You kind of feel like you're part of the team again," he said. "It's been a long time. When you're not around the guys, it's a tight group in here, so you miss out on a lot of things. It's kind of nice to be back in here and catch up."

As Salvador nears a return to the lineup, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello announced Wednesday that Peter Harrold has a non-displaced foot fracture and will wear a cast for a week.

Harrold, who has two assists in 21 games, was hurt in the third period of Saturday's overtime win at Madison Square Garden. He crashed into the right post after defending a shorthanded 2-on-1 chance by Derek Stepan.

The Devils had lost 109 man-games to injury or illness entering Tuesday's game in Columbus.

"It's been amazing," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "I haven't seen anything like it. Thankfully, we have depth at that position and thankfully the kids that have come up (from Albany) have really gotten the job done or this could be a lot worse situation, obviously."

Ryane Clowe did not practice Wednesday, but "has been released a hundred percent to play and practice," Lamoriello said.

Sidelined since Oct. 13, Clowe will not travel with the team to Pittsburgh. The Devils close out their three-game trip Friday night against the Penguins and return home to host Tampa Bay on Saturday.

"We're going to take our time and just make sure everything is one hundred percent," Lamoriello said, adding, "We've been pushing him pretty hard, so we're going to make sure there's no reoccurence of anything."

Lamoriello said Clowe would "most likely" practice Thursday.

Anton Volchenkov (rest) did not practice Wednesday.

Stephen Gionta (ankle) continues to skate on his own, but is "not ready yet," Lamoriello said. Ryan Carter (leg) and Adam Larsson (lower body) have not yet returned to the ice.

Wednesday's practice helped the team turn the page on Tuesday's loss in Columbus. The Devils took a 3-1 lead in the second period only to see the Blue Jackets rally for a 5-4 victory.

"When you play a game like that [Tuesday] night and don't win, I think you also don't want to carry that around for 48 hours either," DeBoer said. "It was important we got in here today, addressed what we did well, what we didn't do well, get that cleaned up and move forward."

Wednesday's lines:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Damien Brunner - Patrik Elias - Steve Bernier
Reid Boucher - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Tim Sestito - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen
Mattias Tedenby - Andrei Loktionov

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill

Martin Brodeur, Cory Schneider

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