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Feeling better, forward Ilya Kovalchuk returns to Devils’ lineup for Game 3 vs. Flyers

NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey Devils leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk has returned to the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Kovalchuk did not make the trip to Philadelphia for Tuesday’s game because of a lower back injury suffered in the opening round against the Florida Panthers.

Coach Peter DeBoer said the right wing was feeling better on Wednesday, and Kovalchuk said on Thursday morning that he expected to play.

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Kovalchuk had 37 goals in the regular season. He had three in the first eight games of the playoffs.

Rookie defenceman Adam Larsson, who replaced Kovalchuk in the lineup for Game 2, remained after scoring in the 4-1 win. Instead, defenceman Peter Harrold was a healthy scratch for the first time in the playoffs. He has four points in nine post-season games.