Kovalchuk scores in return for Devils

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the lineup Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres, and scored a power-play goal in the first period.

Kovalchuk had missed the past five games because of a groin injury sustained on Nov. 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils were 3-2 without him.

Kovalchuk's goal just over 5 minutes into the game was his third of the season, and snapped a seven-game goal drought going back to the fourth game of the season against Nashville.

He entered with nine points in 11 games.