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National Hockey League

Eriksson, Thornton to return for Bruins

San Jose, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins will receive a boost in their final contest of a three-game road trip on Saturday night.

Forwards Loui Eriksson and Shawn Thornton will make their long-awaited returns to the lineup, after radically different circumstances kept them out of action.

Eriksson has been sidelined since Dec. 7, when he was the recipient of a clean, but hard, open-ice hit from Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. He was finally cleared for contact earlier in the week, and has missed 15 games since then while dealing with his second serious concussion of the season.

"It's been a long time, it feels like, so it's going to be nice to be back," said Eriksson after an afternoon practice session. "It's really exciting to start playing again, and be around the guys, and try to win hockey games."

The 28-year-old Finn missed five games in October and November after taking a vicious elbow to the head from Sabres enforcer John Scott, an action which drew a 10-game suspension.

Thornton, on the other hand, has finished serving his 15-game suspension for getting revenge on Orpik, dragging the enemy blueliner down from behind and punching him unconscious.

He drew the longest ban of the season for his effort, and also lost an appeal to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who upheld the original ruling on Christmas Eve. Thornton then decided not to try his luck with an independent arbitrator.

"I think Soupy's mad though. He hasn't talked to me all morning," quipped Thornton of linemate Gregory Campbell's reaction to the winger's return.

01/11 18:54:09 ET

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