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Sean Couturier returning to Flyers' lineup against Blues

ST. LOUIS - After missing five weeks because of an injured left knee, center Sean Couturier returned to the Flyers' lineup Wednesday in St. Louis.

Couturier, who had five goals in 20 games before being injured, centered the third line and had Nick Cousins and Dale Weise as his wingers.

"Obviously, Coots plays a pretty big role for us, not only five-on-five but on both specialty teams," coach Dave Hakstol said after the morning skate Wednesday. "Whether or not he has a huge specialty-team role tonight remains to be seen. But he's ready to go and it'll be good to have him back in the lineup."

Conditioning won't be a problem, Couturier said.

"You work out every day and you're almost in better shape, you're almost fresher when you get back," Couturier said. "Guys have been playing every two nights and a tough schedule. . . . I feel fresh and ready to go. Timing will be a big thing. I don't know if it'll take a shift or two, or maybe a period, or maybe a few games. I don't know."

Couturier, 24, said "you're not going to be your sharpest to start, but you have to be reliable and make the right little decisions."

In his absence, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took over Couturier's defensive responsibilities and his line was usually matched against the opposition's top line.

"He's done a good job, and [so has] the team in general - everyone kind of stepped up," Couturier said. "We gained some ground and now we've got to keep pushing."

The Flyers went 11-4-1 in the 16 games Couturier missed.

Couturier said it doesn't matter where Hakstol plays him.

"It depends what role they want me in," he said. "I feel ready to do whatever, whether it's second line, third line, fourth line. As long as we win and I find a way to help the team, I'm happy."

Schultz returns

Nick Schultz, a healthy scratch in the previous 22 games, returned to the lineup and was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere.

"He's offensive-minded, and for me, I just try to keep it simple - try to get the puck in his hands so he can make plays - and just try to communicate out there and move the puck up to our forwards," Schultz said.


Left winger Taylor Leier replaced the injured Michael Raffl (knee) on the top line. . . . Flyers prospect Mikhail Vorobyov, a center on Team Russia, entered Wednesday tied for second in the World Junior Championships with five points in two games. Vorobyov, who turns 20 next month, was a fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft.