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Kovalchuk felt 'best so far' at Friday practice

Friday, 04.19.2013 / 3:12 PM ET / News
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Kovalchuk felt \'best so far\' at Friday practice




 
NEWARK, N.J. -- Ilya Kovalchuk called practice on Friday one of his best since he hurt his shoulder almost four weeks ago, meaning there is a chance the New Jersey Devils could have their high-scoring right wing back in the lineup as early as Saturday afternoon, when they face the Florida Panthers.

Kovalchuk, though, is still hesitant to make any predictions.

"We were taking one-timers and this is definitely one of the better days in a long time," Kovalchuk said. "The coaches will decide and we'll see [Saturday]."

The Devils on Thursday snapped a 10-game winless streak (0-6-4) that coincided with Kovalchuk's absence. They are still mathematically alive in the Stanley Cup Playoff race, but even with the 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers they remain six points out of eighth with only five games remaining.

They could fall to eight points out if the New York Rangers win in Buffalo on Friday night.

"We're still fighting for our lives for a playoff spot and we want to ice the best possible team we can," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "Obviously [Kovalchuk] would be a part of that."

Kovalchuk did not skate on a regular line during the regular portion of practice Friday and was instead rotating in with Andrei Loktionov, Krystofer Barch and Tom Kostopoulos. He stayed on for a lengthy extra skate with those players as well as defensemen Alexander Urbom and Anton Volchenkov.

However, none of that means Kovalchuk wouldn't be able to play Saturday if he responds well.

"I didn't skate with the contact at all for three weeks and [Friday] we were doing one-on-ones and two-on-twos," Kovalchuk said. "I feel pretty good and we'll see how I respond [Friday night] and [Saturday] morning we'll decide."

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
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10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
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2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 56 15 25 6 40
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
A. Henrique 54 19 18 14 37
K. Palmieri 56 20 16 3 36
T. Zajac 48 8 19 7 27
D. Schlemko 48 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 56 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 52 1 12 -1 13
J. Blandisi 17 4 7 -1 11
J. Josefson 45 3 8 -14 11
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 25 16 6 .931 1.98
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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