After five-game absence, Neal back for Preds tonight

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The Nashville Predators activated James Neal off injured reserve Tuesday, in advance of their game against the Canucks at Bridgestone.

Neal, who missed the last five games with an upper-body ailment, looks as though he’ll return on a line with Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson, as opposed to a top-line role with Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro (Craig Smith, who sits third on the team with 12 goals, will play there instead.)

Regardless of where he plays, Neal is a welcome addition to the lineup — just ask his head coach, Peter Laviolette.

“It’s good to get him back on the ice,” Laviolette said, per The Tennessean. “He’s a heavy player that can provide a lot of offense, and when he is out of the lineup, you really miss a guy like that.”

Neal will look to rediscover the form he had prior to getting hurt; he had five points in his last six games, which included a two-goal outing against Chicago on Dec. 29.