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Devils' Tlusty returns to lineup against Blackhawks

by Mike G. Morreale

BLACKHAWKS (7-5-1) at DEVILS (6-5-1)


NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils left wing Jiri Tlusty will return to the lineup Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Prudential Center.

Tlusty, who has missed the past two games with a right shoulder injury, was on a line with center Travis Zajac and right wing Kyle Palmieri at the morning skate and declared himself ready.

"I'm going to play and it's nice to get back in," Tlusty said. "You never want to watch the game from the stands and you want to be part of the team, so I'm excited to get back."

Tlusty has one goal and three points in 10 games for the Devils, who will look to snap a four-game losing streak against the Blackhawks as they begin a three-game homestand.

The Devils are beginning to form an identity of being tough to play against, something coach John Hynes stressed needed to happen during the preseason. New Jersey has won six of its past eight and has points in seven of nine (6-2-1).

"It's coming along, you can see it in different ways," Hynes said. "Right now we feel like we've had an opportunity to win, even the games we didn't win. We've been right there and that's something we wanted to do. We've been in difficult situations where we're coming from behind or playing tight games and finding a way to win in overtime or the shootout, and those are all components of being difficult to play against, so it's a good start."

The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks have struggled to find consistency in recent games. It hasn't helped that defenseman Duncan Keith (knee, seven games missed) and forward Marian Hossa (lower body, two games missed) have been out with injuries as Chicago has lost four straight road games in which they've been outscored 15-6.

The loss of Keith has become an even greater factor as the Blackhawks have allowed 16 goals over a 1-2-1 stretch after winning their first three games without Keith and allowing two goals.

The Blackhawks scored five goals in the first period against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday but lost 6-5 in overtime. Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who is usually Keith's partner when he's in the lineup, is on a seven-game point streak (three goals, 10 points).

The Blackhawks might look to Seabrook against the Devils since he has scored nine points in the past six games against New Jersey. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville knows it won't be easy.

"I like the way they play," Quenneville said. "They play a real strong team game and are strong with their positioning. They don't allow a lot of time and space and they keep themselves in games, whether it's low- or high-scoring games."

Left wing Teuvo Teravainen has goals in consecutive games for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old, who has four goals and six points in 12 games, has worked well on a line with center Artem Anisimov and right wing Patrick Kane.

"He's been effective on that line and dangerous with the puck and is more patient with the puck," Quenneville said. "That line hasn't lost a bit with (Artemi) Panarin moving up with (Jonathan) Toews, so hopefully he keeps it up."

Here are the projected lineups:


Artemi Panarin - Jonathan Toews - Ryan Garbutt

Teuvo Teravainen - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Marko Dano - Tanner Kero - Viktor Tikhonov

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw

Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor Daley - Erik Gustafsson

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: Duncan Keith (knee), Marian Hossa (lower body), Michal Rozsival (left ankle)

Scratched: David Rundblad


Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Tlusty - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Sergey Kalinin - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo

Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Brian O'Neill

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Damon Severson

Jon Merrill - David Schlemko

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (foot), Patrik Elias (knee)

Scratched: Stefan Matteau, Eric Gelinas

Status report: Quenneville said Hossa skated Thursday and could return to the lineup Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers. Rozsival could return to the lineup Nov. 12 against the Devils. … With Tlusty healthy to play, Hynes will return to playing 12 forwards and six defensemen; defenseman Gelinas is a healthy scratch. Matteau will be a healthy scratch a fifth straight game. "[Matteau] is a young guy and it's not always easy to not play," Hynes said. "We'll have to work with him, and eventually a time and place to get him in."

Who's hot: Kane has at least one point in eight straight games, scoring five goals and 12 points over that stretch. … Palmieri has two goals and five points in the past four games.

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