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Kovalchuk ‘making great strides’ in return from shoulder injury

Apr 5, 2013, 4:23 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk Getty Images

Peter DeBoer is confident that Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder) will be back in time to try and help the Devils make the playoffs.

When exactly that might be, DeBoer couldn’t say.

“I can’t put a number on that yet,” DeBoer said, per The Record. “I can tell you he’s making great strides and I’m optimistic he’ll be able to help us down the stretch. For me, that means more than the last couple games.”

The Devils host the Leafs (who will also be without a top scorer) tomorrow, at which time trade-deadline acquisition Steve Sullivan will wear a New Jersey uniform for the first time since the mid-90s.

Sullivan, 38, started his NHL career with the Devils before stops in Toronto, Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Phoenix.

“Hopefully, he brings what he’s brought his entire career and that’s energy, speed and the ability to create some offense and play with good players,” DeBoer said. “So, I’m hopeful he can help us 5-on-5 and, hopefully, he can help us on the power play and maybe in shootouts.”

The Devils, ninth in the Eastern Conference, are winless in their last five games and have scored just once in their last two.

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