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Tallinder could return Saturday

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

Defenseman Henrik Tallinder could be back in the lineup as early as Saturday, when the Devils host Pittsburgh at 3 p.m.

Tallinder has missed six games with back spasms. He took part in Wednesday's morning skate, but did not play in the 3-1 victory over Buffalo.

"I was skating pretty good yesterday," Tallinder said after Thursday's practice. "Then I had a workout here during the game. I don't expect [the injury] to go back to where it was. Knock on wood."

Peter DeBoer indicated the big blueliner is likely to play against the Penguins. The Devils (20-15-1) have won eight of their last 11.

"I think so," said the coach. "We wanted to get through a full practice, get a little contact in. I thought he looked good to me. We'll see how he wakes up [Friday], but he looks good."

Defenseman Alexander Urbom was assigned to Albany (AHL), paving the way for Tallinder's possible return.

"We've got [Matt] Taormina here as an insurance policy if for some reason he can't go," DeBoer said.

Tallinder averages 21:42 minutes of ice time, second only to Adam Larsson among Devils defensemen.

Petr Sykora scored twice Wednesday, picking up his ninth and 10th goals of the season. The Devils have a League-high seven players with double-digit goal totals. Philadelphia is next with six, while Ottawa and Vancouver each have five.

A balanced attack has been one of the keys to the Devils' success in the first half.

"It's been critical," DeBoer said. "Obviously, when I took the job in the summer, when you look at the New Jersey Devils last year, the goals for and the shots for are something that jumps off the page at you. Something that we had to find a way to correct and do it without dramatically affecting our defensive game. That's been the goal since Day 1 and I think we're slowly getting to the point where we're getting a good balance there."

• Sykora, Anton Volchenkov and Travis Zajac had maintenance days and did not skate Thursday.
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