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Hischier to return for Devils against Canadiens

Center expected to play after missing four games with thumb injury

by Mike Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Nico Hischier is expected to return to the New Jersey Devils lineup after missing four games with a thumb injury when they play the Montreal Canadiens at Prudential Center on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, MSG+ 2, RDS, NHL.TV).

"I talked to the trainers after practice and felt pretty good out there," Hischier said after practice Tuesday.

Hischier injured his thumb in the second period of a 5-2 loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 11. He centered the top line with left wing Taylor Hall and right wing Kyle Palmieri at practice.

"Nico should be good to go," Devils coach John Hynes said.

The 19-year-old was working on the top power-play unit with forwards Hall, Palmieri and Marcus Johansson and defenseman Will Butcher.

"Sitting up there and watching the team and when it's not going well ... you want to be on the ice and help the team win, so it's not fun," Hischier said. "I wasn't 100 percent ready the past four games but I can say I felt better than two days ago."

Hischier said the injury is not related to the left wrist injury he had last season. He played through that injury and had his left wrist and hand immobilized for at least two weeks during the offseason.

"I think you have to take the time you need because if you can't really play your game then you don't help the team, so you have to sit out and have someone else who can play that's 100 percent," Hischier said.

This Devils (8-9-2) are 2-1-1 without Hischier in the lineup and are 15th in the Eastern Conference. Hischier has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 15 games.

"Nico is our first-line center and a big part of our future, a big part of our team," Hall said. "Hopefully he's healthy and ready to go and maybe a bit more energized after missing some games. It'll be good to have him back, not only for our team, but our line as well."

Forward Brian Boyle, on injured reserve with an upper-body injury sustained Nov. 11, will miss his fifth game. Defenseman Sami Vatanen, on injured reserve with a lower-body injury sustained Nov. 15, will miss his third game.

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