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After 29-game absence, Backlund returns for Flames tonight

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Calgary will get a key cog back in the lineup this evening when it takes on Detroit, as Mikael Backlund (abdomen) will play for the first time since Oct. 28.

Backlund, who suffered the injury prior to training camp but tried to play through it, has missed 29 straight games after undergoing surgery. The injury was a significant blow to both the Flames and 25-year-old: Calgary really missed his presence as a top-two center, given its lack of depth down the middle; Backlund, meanwhile, suffered the injury on the heels of his most productive campaign -- last year, the former first-round pick scored a career-high 18 goals and 39 points, while leading the club in faceoffs taken.

His return should also bolster Calgary’s fight for a playoff spot. The Flames head into tonight’s action ninth in the Western Conference, just two points back of Winnipeg for the last wild card.