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Marian Gaborik cleared for contact, nears return to Blue Jackets lineup

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Marian Gaborik has been cleared for contact. (USATSI)
Marian Gaborik has been cleared for contact as he nears his return to the Blue Jackets lineup. (USATSI)

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Columbus Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik is nearly back to full strength after breaking his collarbone Dec. 21 in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The injury cost Gaborik 23 games and a spot on the Slovakian Olympic team, but it looks like he should be ready to hop back in the Blue Jackets' lineup.

Gaborik has been cleared for contact after X-rays showed marked improvement in his collarbone. The oft-injured forward told the Blue Jackets' website he feels close to 100 percent.

If all goes well over the next few days, Gaborik could return to the lineup when the NHL returns from its Olympic break.

"I'm going to work into practice and work into battles, and hopefully jump into games soon," Gaborik told BlueJackets.com after practice. "Considering I couldn't play, I had a chance to work on some things and rehab and strengthen stuff, it helped.

"I should be (ready). It's a matter of feeling good and not being sore, and feeling strong and confident that I can go into battles at 100 percent and not be scared. I have time to work on those things in these upcoming eight days."

Gaborik has 12 points in 18 games this season. Having both he and Nathan Horton , who spent the first half of the season recovering from off-season surgery, is going to give Columbus a pretty formidable group up front.

The Blue Jackets are just three points shy of third place in the Metropolitan Division and are firmly in the wild card hunt in the East. Things could be coming together just at the right time for Columbus to make an honest run at the postseason.

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