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Former Devils Star Ilya Kovalchuk Makes his Return to New Jersey

The Russian winger is slated to make his return to the Prudential Center for the first time since 2013

by LA Kings @LAKings /

The LA Kings are set to play the New Jersey Devils tonight at the Prudential Center.

It marks the return for Ilya Kovalchuk, the former Devils star who left the team following the 2012-13 season to play in the KHL.

In his final home game with the Devils, Kovalchuk picked up an assist and scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Russian winger was named the No. 1 Star of the Game.

Watch: Youtube Video

Before leaving New Jersey in 2013, Kovalchuk played 222 games for the Devils, recording 201 points and helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, where they utilmately lost to the Kings.

Watch: Youtube Video

So what does Kovalchuk expect for his return? 

"You know, it's always good to go back and play against your former team, so I'm pretty sure it will be a lot of booing, but I love that, so it's all good," Kovalchuk said Monday after the Kings' 4-3 overtime victory over the New York Rangers.

Tweet from @amandacstein: "To watch a guy get cheered or booed - they don't boo nobody, as the saying goes. I get a kick out of it." - #NJDevils Travis Zajac when asked about the reception Ilya Kovalchuk will receive at Prudential Center tonight.

Whether or not he gets booed, he remembers his time there in a positive light.

"Yeah, we had a great team when I got traded - all those three years I was there, we went to the finals. It was a lot of fun. I played with some great players there, some Hall of Famers. Some guys got their jersey retired, so it's always great. It was a great experience, for sure," Kovalchuk explained to Kings Insider Jon Rosen.

Now, Kovalchuk is heading into the Prudential Center as a member of the Kings.

In 42 games this season, he has scored 10 goals and recorded 15 assists.

Video: LAK@SJS: Kovalchuk snaps home OT winner in return

He's picked up three points already on the first two games of the Kings road trip, including two assists in yesterday 4-3 OT win over the New York Rangers.

Video: LAK@NYR: Kempe cashes in off Kovalchuk's great feed

As he gets ready for the game in New Jersey, he is not only ready for the boos but has a history of them working in his favor.

"I was booed a few times in Russia when I played back home against my first team, Spartak," said Kovalchuk. "I did well. I scored two goals, so we'll see [tonight]."

We'll find out if the boos are his good luck charm today at 4 p.m. as the Kings face-off against the Devils.

Tune into FOX Sports West, listen in on iHeart Radio, or stream the game on the FOX Sports App to catch all the action.

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