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Kovalchuk might miss Saturday’s game vs. Winnipeg

Ilya Kovalchuk

New Jersey Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk, of Russia, celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in an NHL hockey game Friday, March 4, 2011, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)


New Jersey Devils LW Ilya Kovalchuk might not be available for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Kovalchuk left Thursday’s 4-3 SO win over Philadelphia in the third period and did not return for overtime or the shootout -- which was an eye-opener, as Kovalchuk is a perfect three-for-three on shootouts this season.

Kovalchuk told Rich Chere of the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he pulled a lower body muscle (oh good, that narrows it down) during his last shift of the game.

“On the last shift I tried to back check,” Kovalchuk explained. “I never got it before. We have good doctors. We’ll see what they tell me.”

(Insert “see what happens when Kovalchuk tries to back check?” joke here.)

Today, head coach Peter DeBoer updated the situation by saying Kovalchuk pulled a leg muscle -- Tom Gulitti of the Fire & Ice blog notes Kovi was walking with noticeable leg stiffness -- but didn’t offer much more. “We’re going to evaluate him today and get a report tonight and probably it will be more we’ll see how he feels tomorrow morning.” Deboer said.

New Jersey can ill-afford to lose Kovalchuk’s offense -- outside of he and Patrik Elias, the Devils aren’t getting much production at all. Last year’s third-leading scorer, Travis Zajac, is out with a torn achilles. Zach Parise has notched five goals...but just a single assist, and is minus-3. As for the defense...yeesh. New Jersey has just 11 points from its blueline this year, and eight of those have come from Mark Fayne and Andy Greene.