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Weber to return for Canadiens against Red Wings

Defenseman was expected to be sidelined at least two more weeks with ankle injury @NHLdotcom

Shea Weber will return to the lineup for the Montreal Canadiens when they visit the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, FS-D, NHL.TV).

The defenseman and Canadiens captain has not played since Feb. 4 because of a left ankle injury, missing the past six games. He was expected to be out 4-6 weeks, but skated on a pair with Ben Chiarot and skated on the first power-play unit at practice Monday.

Weber was reevaluated by an orthopedic specialist on Feb. 12 and is expected to make a full recovery.

 "I expect him to be the same old Shea Weber," Montreal coach Claude Julien said after an optional morning skate Tuesday. "There's no reason to think he would be any different. He's playing because he feels fine."

Julien said he was not surprised by Weber's quick return.

"Not as much when you know the guy," he said. "Maybe with other guys. He's an old-school player. He would play through anything, but right now the risk is not there."

Weber has 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) and is plus-8 in 55 games this season. He's averaging 24:18 of ice time per game, most on the Canadiens and 12th in the NHL.

Julien also said forward Paul Byron, who has been out since Nov. 15 with a knee injury, will play against Detroit. Forward Brendan Gallagher (upper body) is questionable.

Montreal (27-26-8) is nine points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Independent correspondent Dave Hogg contributed to this report

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