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Bruins' Eriksson, Thornton returning against Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Shawn Thornton and Loui Eriksson will be in the lineup Saturday night for the first time in more than a month when the Boston Bruins face the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.

Eriksson sustained a concussion on a hit from the Pittsburgh Penguins' Brooks Orpik early in the first period of a Dec. 7 game in Boston. Later in that game, Thornton retaliated against Orpik, tripping him from behind and then punching him in the face twice while Orpik was on the ice. Orpik also ended up with a concussion, and Thornton was suspended 15 games by the NHL.

Thornton served the final game of his suspension Thursday night when the Bruins lost 4-2 against the Los Angeles Kings.

"I'm excited to be back, obviously," Thornton said after the Bruins' morning skate. "It was a tough night to sleep, for other reasons this time, which is good. I was a little excited. It's been a long time. I can't wait to get it going."

Thornton took rushes on the fourth line with center Gregory Campbell and left wing Daniel Paille. Ericksson skated on the third line at right wing with center Ryan Spooner and left wing Carl Soderberg.

"I'm just going to go and do what I'm supposed to do," Ericksson said. "If I get a hit, I think that's good for me to see how I'm feeling out there. I think it's going to be a good start playing against San Jose. That's a good team to play against. It will be a hard game [Saturday night]."

Thornton said it will take some time to regain his timing, but he has no concerns about his conditioning after working for more than a month with assistant coach Doug Jarvis.

"I'm probably in better shape now than I was going into this," Thornton said. "When Mr. Jarvis gets you every day for [however] many days it was straight, you tend to lose a little weight."

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk will miss the game for personal reasons. Kevan Miller will take his spot in the lineup.

Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin (upper body) will miss his second straight game.

Here are the projected lineups for the Sharks and Bruins:


Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Tommy Wingels - Patrick Marleau - Matthew Nieto

Bracken Kearns - Andrew Desjardins - Tyler Kennedy

Eriah Hayes - John McCarthy - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Scott Hannan- Jason Demers

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: James Sheppard, Matt Tennyson

Injured: Matt Irwin (upper body), Tomas Hertl (knee surgery), Logan Couture (hand surgery), Martin Havlat (lower body), Adam Burish (back surgery), Raffi Torres (knee surgery)


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith

Carl Soderberg - Ryan Spooner - Loui Eriksson

Shawn Thornton- Gregory Campbell - Daniel Paille

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton

Adam McQuaid - Torey Krug

Matt Bartkowski - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Johnny Boychuk, Matt Fraser, Justin Florek

Injured: Chris Kelly (broken leg), Jordan Caron (back), Dennis Seidenberg (knee surgery)

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