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After 21-game absence, Fisher (ruptured Achilles) back for Preds

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 17: Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on December 17, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Frederick Breedon

After Mike Fisher ruptured his Achilles this summer, Nashville GM David Poile said a return by Thanksgiving would be an “optimistic target.”

Well, target met.

Fisher will make his season debut tonight when the Preds host the Oilers, the first time he’s played since April of last season. The return promises to be a boon for the surging Predators, who head into tonight’s action sitting atop the Central Division with a 14-5-2 record; Fisher had a great year for Nashville in ’13-14, scoring 20 goals and 49 points while averaging 19:45 TOI -- the second-highest total of his 14-year career.

With Fisher back, Nashville will boast a wealth of veteran experience at center: Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Olli Jokinen, Matt Cullen and Paul Gaustad have all been playing there this season (along with rookie Calle Jarnkrok), so it’ll be interesting to see what head coach Peter Laviolette does with his lineup.

Updated: Looks as though Fisher will be the third-line center tonight with Jokinen and Roy playing his wings.