The 22-year-old forward missed the previous two games after getting hurt in the Mar. 15 contest against the rival Philadelphia Flyers. A bit of mystery shrouded what was ailing Loktionov in the press this week.
While the Devils are never forthcoming regarding injury information, usually they will at least label it as an upper or lower body injury.
However in this case, there weren’t any details released to the media as to what was “sore” from a hit Loktionov sustained in the game with the Flyers.
The Russian himself dodged questions by reporters about it all week. The type of injury was finally addressed after the much-needed victory against the Hurricanes that Loktionov had an issue with his left shoulder.
With the mystery solved and apparently healed, Loktionov returned to the ice with a goal.
“I was a little bit sore in the first period,” Loktionov explained to reporters following the win in down in North Carolina. “Then everything goes away. It’s nice to score a goal when you don’t play.”
Since being recalled from the team’s AHL affiliate in Albany on Feb. 17, the youngster has made an immediate impact. In 14 games, he has five goals and three assists and has moved up to center the top line with his fellow countryman, Ilya Kovalchuk.
With 18 games left in the regular season and the Devils barely hanging onto the seventh playoff spot, the offense generated by Loktionov’s creative play making is becoming more and more vital.
Tonight’s contest against the Florida Panthers at the Prudential Center in Newark is another must win. If you look at the tight knit standings, all the remaining games are.
Both teams were a little flat in the first period. Devils’ forward Steve Bernier recorded the only two shots by either club during the first ten minutes of the opening period.
A shot by Loktionov from linemate Adam Henrique forced the former Devil backup, Scott Clemmensen to make a tough save.
The ever-dependable Patrick Elias started off the scoring by putting in his tenth of the season. David Clarkson netted just his second goal in 18 games, taking the team lead with 12.
A rare puck-handling mishap from Brodeur got the Panthers on the board early in the third.
The Devils’ power play which has struggled in the last month looked better especially with Loktionov out on the ice. Unfortunately, they were not able to capitalize on a five minute opportunity after a hit from behind on Tim Sestito. However, the power play was without Kovalchuk who left the game after going hard into the boards.
Loktionov may not have gotten on the score sheet this evening, but he made his presence known with his stellar play.
The bottom line though, is the Devils finally have back to back wins and a brighter future with Loktionov in the lineup.
Dawn Miller is a New Jersey Devils writer for www.RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dawnsmiller, “Like” her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dawn-Miller/393662124056436 or add her to your network on Google.