Given the slew of injuries that have decimated the Boston Bruins’ roster for most of the season, any reinforcements are welcome.

Forward David Backes returned to the lineup Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning – although his appearance on the ice wasn’t expected for at least another month.

After undergoing surgery Nov. 2 to remove a portion of his colon, Backes was slated to miss around eight weeks of action – a devastating development for a veteran looking for a bounce-back campaign after a so-so first season in Boston.

But it only took 27 days for the 33-year-old to return to action.

Skating on Boston’s second line, Backes was active in Boston’s 3-2 win over Tampa Bay, logging 18:58 of ice time and winning 70 percent of his face-off chances. He also fired two shots on goal and finished with a team-high five hits.

“I think I felt better than I expected to feel,” Backes said after the win. “Four weeks off, you know, 20-something games into the season, everyone is hitting their stride and trying to catch up from 10 days sitting around, not doing anything is a bit of a challenge, but that’s a credit to the training staff and strength staff here.”

While he has only one assist in six games this season, Backes’ return to the ice seems to bode well for the Bruins – they are 3-0-3 with him in the lineup.

DEVILS-DUCKS: New Jersey acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen in a trade with Anaheim in exchange for center Adam Henrique and forward Joseph Blandisi.

New Jersey gets a conditional 2019 or 2020 third-round pick along with Vatanen. The Devils also sent a 2018 third-round pick to Anaheim.

Even though he has just a goal and three assists in 15 games, Vatanen gives the Devils the offensive defensemen they were looking for. The 26-year-old is signed for two more seasons at a salary-cap hit of $4.875 million. He has 126 points in 280 regular-season games.

In Henrique, the Ducks get center depth as they deal with injuries to Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. The 27-year-old has four goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season and is signed through 2018-19.

CANUCKS: Forward Derek Dorsett says he is devastated after deciding to follow medical advice and end his hockey career because of spinal problems.

Doctors have recommended he not return to the ice because of “long-term, significant health risks” associated with a cervical disk herniation, the Canucks said.

“It will take a long time for this to truly sink in,” Dorsett said in a statement. “As hard as it was to hear, (the) diagnosis is definitive. There is no gray area, and it gives me clarity to move forward.”

LIGHTNING: Forward Cedric Paquette was suspended for one game without pay by the NHL for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug during Wednesday’s game.

WILD: Minnesota claimed defenseman Nate Prosser off waivers from the Blues, returning the nine-year veteran to his home-state team for a third stint.

RANGERS: Center Mika Zibanejad missed practice because of a concussion.


WILD 4, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2:  Eric Staal scored the go-ahead goal with 7:55 left and tacked on an empty-netter as Minnesota beat visiting Vegas.

KINGS 4, CAPITALS 2: Jonny Brodzinski and Jussi Jokinen scored in a span of nine seconds, Jonathan Quick made 27 saves and Los Angeles won at Washington for its third consecutive victory.

Marian Gaborik scored twice, including one of two empty-net goals for the Kings.

CANADIENS 6, RED WINGS 3: Brendan Gallagher scored twice, and his teammates added three goals in the second period on the way to a victory over visiting Detroit.