OTTAWA (AP) -Anaheim Ducks forward Chris Kunitz returned Saturday for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals after missing three weeks with a broken bone in his right hand.
Cleared by team doctors on Friday, Kunitz's return came earlier than expected after he was initially ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. He provides an added boost to a Ducks team leading Ottawa 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Coach Randy Carlyle announced the possibility of the player's return following the team's morning skate.
``The last question we asked the doctor is that, 'If this was your son, would you allow him to play?' And the answer, obviously, was yes,'' Carlyle said. The coach's only concern is Kunitz's conditioning.
Kunitz, a gritty left wing, had a goal and five assists in 11 games playing alongside Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald. He has missed seven games since being hurt May 11 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Detroit.
Kunitz has been skating with the team since at least Tuesday, and said he felt good after practice Saturday morning.
``It's been painful watching,'' said Kunitz, a third-year NHL veteran. ``From the initial shock of them telling me that the season was going to be over. It's a great relief that I might have a chance now.''
Selanne was pleased to hear the news.
``When he had surgery, I wasn't really expecting much, but it's unbelievable,'' Selanne said. ``I knew a week ago, he told me he's pretty close, and I said, 'What? Are you serious?' Then I knew that he was coming back, for sure.''
Rookie Drew Miller, who averaged nine minutes in the past two games, was scratched to make room for Kunitz.
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