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Thrashers' Kovalchuk makes late decision to join team for game against Rangers

ATLANTA - One day after Ilya Kovalchuk was ruled out of the Atlanta Thrashers' game against the New York Rangers, the star forward was back in the lineup after a lengthy absence.

Kovalchuk broke a bone in his foot on Oct. 24 after being struck by the puck and was expected to be sidelined 3-to-5 weeks. The Atlanta captain missed six games and Atlanta went 3-3 without him.

He skated with the team Thursday morning in New York and then was officially cleared to play that night after taking part in the pre-game warmup.

On Wednesday, hours after team spokesman Rob Koch said Kovalchuk did not accompany the Thrashers to New York, Koch then said a weather delay before the flight changed the plan and that Kovalchuk did make the trip.

Kovalchuk was tied for second in the NHL with nine goals when he was injured in a game against the San Jose Sharks.

Rookie left winger Evander Kane, the No. 4 pick in this year's draft, also was in the lineup despite taking a shot off the foot a few days earlier. He didn't miss any games. Kane assisted on Colby Armstrong's goal 19 seconds in against the Rangers.

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