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After 22-game absence, Gaborik returns for Jackets tomorrow

Feb 26, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

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Marian Gaborik #10 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 5, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. The Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders 3-2 in the shootout.
(October 4, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Marian Gaborik will look to get his injury-riddled campaign on track Thursday in New Jersey.

The Columbus winger, who has missed the last 22 games with a broken collarbone, will return to the Blue Jackets’ lineup for the first time since late December, the club announced on today.

“I expect him to come out hard and play hard,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. “And if he does that, he’s going to play fast and generate some offensive chances for us.”

As mentioned above, it’s been a trying season for Gaborik’s health. The broken collarbone was the second major injury suffered this year — in November, he sprained his knee and missed 17 games (and actually broke the collarbone in his first game back from the knee ailment.)

On the year, Gaborik has 12 points in 18 games, averaging 17:47 TOI per game.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Jackets respond to having the Slovakian sniper back in the lineup. The team has fared extremely well every since Nathan Horton returned from offseason shoulder surgery, and will have almost its full compliment of forwards with Gaborik back in the mix.

According to the Dispatch, Gaborik will open on a line with Mark Letestu and Derek MacKenzie, and will be on the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 power play unit with Horton and Ryan Johansen.

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