Offensive catalyst Ilya Kovalchuk skated with the Devils for the first time since injuring his right shoulder more than two weeks ago and hopes to return soon to the struggling New Jersey lineup.
Kovalchuk would not set a timetable for his return, but coach Peter DeBoer said the Russian star probably will play before he is fully recovered.
The Devils are winless in seven games (0-3-4) since Kovalchuk was hurt crashing into the end boards against the Florida Panthers March 23. The skid has dropped them out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference with nine games left.
The defending conference champions have two home games this week, facing the Boston Bruins Wednesday and the Ottawa Senators Friday.
''Condition-wise, I feel good,'' Kovalchuk told reporters in the locker room. ''That was never a problem. I just want to make sure I'm 100 percent when there is contact, and I can shoot one-timers and take the hard wrist shots. It's definitely going to take a few more days.''