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Injured Kovalchuk skates with struggling Devils, but return date still unclear

  • b26edc983130b10c2e0f6a706700d4e4.jpg

    New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur lays on the ice after his goal was knocked away by the Boston Bruins during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

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    New Jersey Devils' Andy Greene celebrates after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

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    Boston Bruins players celebrate after defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

Ilya Kovalchuk will not play for the reeling New Jersey Devils until his injured right shoulder feels comfortable.

After skating with nine other players on Thursday, Kovalchuk was uncertain whether he would be able to play for the defending Eastern Conference champions on Friday against the Ottawa Senators.

The Devils have dropped eight consecutive games (0-4-4) and their chances of making the playoffs are dwindling with eight games remaining in the 48-game, lockout-shortened season. They are four points out of a playoff spot and their situation is even more tenuous because they have won only 15 games this season, posting 10 points from overtime losses and shootouts.

New Jersey's slide, the longest for the franchise since 1985-86, coincides with Kovalchuk's injury against Florida March 23.