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Kovalchuk opens up about back injury

Ilya Kovalchuk

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 03: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils warms up prior to Game Three against the Philadelphia Flyers of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 3, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s been rumored for a while that Ilya Kovalchuk was battling an injury and that was essentially confirmed when it was revealed that he would miss Game 2 of the New Jersey Devils’ second round series. However, even then, the full extent of his problem was not made clear.

Now it is: Kovalchuk started experiencing pain in his back during the first round and missed Game 2 because of a herniated disc. However, he was able to return on Thursday and went on to record a goal and two assists in New Jersey’s 4-3 overtime win over Philadelphia.

“We have great trainers and we have good doctors here, so they did a great job,” Kovalchuk said. “I think it was the right thing to do to sit a couple days. I got four days rest and I did the stuff I was supposed to do and I feel much better.”

Although at one point he was insisting that he was fine, Kovalchuk now admits that it was fairly obvious that something was wrong.

“I think everybody saw that I couldn’t skate the way I used to,” Kovalchuk said.

Even then, the decision to take some time off to get better was a tough one.

“You want to play,” he said. “But when something bothers you it’s better to sit a couple days, regroup, have the doctors do their thing, feel better and play better.”

His decision certainly seems to have paid off.