Ilya Kovalchuk leaves game with shoulder injury

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

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The New Jersey Devils picked up a much needed victory on Saturday night by knocking off the Florida Panthers, 2-1, but it may have been a costly one.

Forward Ilya Kovalchuk had to leave the game mid-way through the third period and did not return, suffering what coach Pete DeBoer called a shoulder injury. DeBoer said the extent of the injury is not known at this point.

"We'll get through it," said DeBoer. "He's obviously probably going to be out for at least a short time."

He's expected to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

The injury occurred midway through the third period when he lost his footing and crashed into the boards behind the Florida net.

Even if it's only a short-term injury it's still a huge loss for a Devils team fighting for a playoff spot. He's their best all-around player and has 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 32 games this season while logging over 25 minutes of ice-time per game.

The Devils currently occupy the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference with 36 points, holding a four-point lead over the ninth-ranked Rangers while New York still has two games in hand.

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