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Jordan Staal to return to Hurricanes lineup Monday

NHL.com @NHL

Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal will make his season debut Monday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Staal missed Carolina's first 35 games because of a broken bone in his right leg sustained in a preseason game.

"I've been getting a little anxious the last few weeks, and I'm feeling comfortable on the ice," Staal told the Hurricanes website. "I'm just getting back to the speed of things."

Staal returned to the ice Dec. 6 to test the feeling in his ankle and leg before traveling and skating with the Hurricanes on a regular basis.

"You start to recover better and feel better after every practice and not feel so dead," he said. "My ankle started feeling better as well. It was tight for a while and sore, but for the last two weeks, I haven't noticed it at all."

Staal played all 130 regular-season games for the Hurricanes the past two seasons since being acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored 15 goals and 40 points last season, and has 145 goals and 319 points in eight seasons with Pittsburgh and Carolina.

He is projected to center a line with his brother, Eric Staal, and Nathan Gerbe against Montreal, according to the Hurricanes website.

"Hopefully I get the big man going. It's exciting," Jordan Staal said. "I'm just excited to get back. Having him on my wing will ease my legs coming back as well, knowing he can do a lot of work down low, too."

The Hurricanes are in last place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points and 2-7-1 in their past 10 games.

"It's not fun to watch your team go through a rough patch," Staal said. "I just try to be as supportive as I can, and when I get back, try to compete as best I can to get them in the right direction. There's not much you can do as a player when you're sitting out except get yourself ready. So that's what I tried to do as best I could, and hopefully I can help contribute."

Forward Jiri Tlusty will also play Monday after missing seven games with an upper-body injury.

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