Pasha’s back: Datsyuk returns for Wings tomorrow vs. Buffalo

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Detroit will get a big boost in its quest for a playoff spot on Friday as Pavel Datsyuk will return to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 27:

Hobbled all year with a nagging knee injury — he missed 14 games with it earlier in the season — Datsyuk will return from a 16-game absence to center a line with Darren Helm (who will move to wing) and Justin Abdelkader when the Red Wings host the Sabres tomorrow.

Needless to say, Datsyuk’s return is huge. The 35-year-old has remained highly productive this season despite the knee injury, scoring 33 points in 39 games while averaging over 20 minutes per night.

His return also signifies one major step forward for Detroit in terms of overall health, as the club now just has three players on injured reserve: Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss and Mikael Samuelsson.