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Season debut for Ruutu; Brodeur returns

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Two key players will return to their respective lineups for the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes when they face off Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is ready to return after missing 13 games with a pinched nerve in his neck. The Devils were 3-8-2 in his absence, as Johan Hedberg made all 13 starts. Brodeur, who last played on Feb. 21, has an 8-2-3 mark and a 2.27 goals-against average.

The Hurricanes will work forward Tuomo Ruutu into the lineup for the first time this season, after recovering from hip surgery in December. The team activated him from injured reserve Thursday.

“He’s excited and ready to go,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “We waited to see what the right opportunity was for him. I said, ‘Listen, when you feel comfortable, let me know.’ He felt comfortable enough this morning to say, ‘I’m ready."

Muller hinted that Ruutu's net-front presence might give the Carolina power play an immediate lift. The Hurricanes man-advantage unit has fallen to 29th in the League.

The Hurricanes continue to battle injuries. Defenseman Justin Faulk will miss two-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL, and fellow blueliner Joe Corvo was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to March 16. Brett Bellemore was called up from Charlotte and will replace Faulk in the lineup against the Devils. Bellemore is making his NHL debut in his fourth professional season.

Here are the projected lineups for New Jersey and Carolina:

DEVILS

Adam HenriqueAndrei LoktionovIlya Kovalchuk

Patrik Elias - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Harri Pesonen - Tim Sestito - Tom Kostopoulos

Marek ZidlickyBryce Salvador

Adam LarssonAndy Greene

Peter HarroldAnton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

Scratched: Krystofer Barch, Mark Fayne
Injured: Henrik Tallinder, Dainius Zubrus

HURRICANES

Jiri TlustyEric Staal – Alex Semin

Jeff SkinnerJordan StaalPatrick Dwyer

Drayson BowmanRiley NashJussi Jokinen

Tuomo RuutuTim BrentAdam Hall

Joni PitkanenJamie McBain

Tim GleasonBobby Sanguinetti

Jay HarrisonBrett Bellemore

Dan Ellis

Justin Peters

Scratched: Tim Wallace, Kevin Westgarth
Injured: Chad LaRose, Joe Corvo, Cam Ward, Justin Faulk

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