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Added October 25th, 2010 by Chalk

Kovalchuk Returns From Benching, Devils Still Lose to Rangers

Ilya Kovalchuk was back on the ice for the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, after the $100 million man was a healthy scratch in New Jersey’s previous scratch. Kovalchuk scored Jersey’s only goal, albeit with only six minutes left in the game and the Devils already trailing the Rangers 2-0. An empty-netter made the final 3-1, and the Devils fell to 2-6-1, the worst record in the NHL.

The Devils still won’t say why Kovalchuk sat in Saturday night’s 6-1 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres, but several New York tabloids suggested it was because Kovalchuk missed a team meeting on Saturday morning. When asked specifically if he’d missed a meeting, Kovalchuk would not comment.

“Everybody gets a healthy scratch once in a while,” said the Russian superstar, ignoring the obvious counterpoint that not everybody has a $100 million contract. “It’s not a big deal,” Kovalchuk continued. “It’s gonna stay between me and [rookie head coach John MacLean]. I am just a player, I am going to show up and play.”

Kovalchuk “played well tonight — he played hard,” said Devils forward Patrik Elias. “We need that from him every night.” Elias isn’t implying that hasn’t been what the Devils have been getting from Kovalchuk so far, is he?

Sunday’s loss at Madison Square Garden was just the first of six straight road games for Kovalchuk and the Devils.

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