Weal back in Flyers lineup; Cousins sidelined

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New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri (21) checks Philadelphia Flyers center Jordan Weal (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Newark, N.J.

NEWARK, N.J. - Top-line left winger Jordan Weal returned to the Flyers lineup Thursday in New Jersey after missing one game with a lower-body injury.

Weal replaced Nick Cousins, who suffered an unspecified injury in the Flyers' 4-0 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Asked whether he was 100 percent, Weal said, "It is what it is, but we're going to keep on moving forward. It will be good."

Coach Dave Hakstol said Weal had no limitations.

Weal entered Thursday with three goals and a plus-4 rating in 11 games since being recalled from the AHL's Phantoms. He has added some speed and creativity to a stale attack.

"He's a hungry player," Hakstol said.

In the beginning of the season, Weal cleared waivers to go to Lehigh Valley. He had 47 points, including 15 goals, in 43 games with the Phantoms and has not looked out of place with the Flyers.

"He's proven so far he's ready to take advantage of this opportunity and help our team," Hakstol said before the game, "and that's what a player needs to do to be in the lineup. He's done that from the first day he came in."

Weal, who will turn 25 next month, has opened eyes and may be one of the players the Flyers protect in the expansion draft, which will stock the Vegas Golden Knights' roster. Teams can protect eight skaters and one goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie. The Flyers will likely use the second option.

College watch

General manager Ron Hextall said he hoped to sign a college free agent in the coming days. Players cannot sign until their seasons are finished.

"You can never have enough depth," Hextall said. "Offensively, I think we do have some good players [in the system] coming and I don't think they're that far away, but you can never have enough young guys that can score or make plays."

Breakaways

Brandon Manning missed his third straight game with what is believed to be a shoulder injury. . . . Claude Giroux entered the night needing two goals to pass Jeff Carter for 15th in franchise history. . . . Steve Mason started for the eighth time in the last nine games. . . . The Flyers will host Carolina on Sunday night. They are 2-1 against the Hurricanes, winning by 6-3 and 4-3 and dropping a 5-1 decision in their last meeting.

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