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Ilya Kovalchuk back in for Devils

Not much more beyond that from either Kovalchuk or Devils coach John MacLean tonight at the Garden, where a pretty solid throng of reporters waited to hear from both player and coach regarding Kovalchuk's benching last night for the Devils' 6-1 loss to the Sabres.

"Totally, totally," MacLean said when asked if he and Kovalchuk got past the benching. "We talked. It's between him and I, and that's as far as we're going. It's over with."

Kovalchuk said MacLean came to him after the team's morning skate yesterday and told him he was out. "Just, you're not playing tonight, that simple," Kovalchuk said. He declined to answer a question as to whether he missed a team meeting before the skate, which could have been a reason for the scratch.

"I love to play, but it's his decision," Kovalchuk said. "I got no comments on that."

He did comment on how much the Devils need a win in their first meeting with the Rangers to stem a 2-5-1 start in which the usually stingy Devils defense and goaltending have allowed 27 goals.

"It's a huge game for us," Kovalchuk said, "and I think everybody knows it."

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