The New Jersey Devils will have forward Patrik Elias back in the lineup Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Elias has missed seven games with what the Devils called "total body soreness" following a Dec. 31 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Patty's going to play [Thursday]," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said after the team's morning skate. "He makes us 10 percent better in all kinds of different areas. I'm sure there's going to be a little rust on him after missing some time, but it's nice to have him back and it's a nice shot of energy for us halfway through this road trip."

DeBoer hadn't decided on how Elias' return would affect his line combinations.

"We might make some tweaks," he said, adding he would dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

The Devils lost their first two games after Elias was injured but have since gone 3-0-2 to pull within one point of the New York Rangers for the final wild-card berth. They have gone 1-0-1 in the first two games of a four-game trip that concludes Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

"We're doing it really to keep up with the Joneses here," DeBoer said. "Everyone else seems to be winning too so it's been critical that we've done this. We've got to continue to build on that and extend this [streak] and/or start another one quickly if we don't. I like where we are mentally as a group. We have to get bodies back and we have to stay healthy. To me that's going to be the key over the next 35 games.

"It's taken us three or four months to realize what works for us, the type of game we have to play. We had a big personnel change over the summer and we knew it would take some time to get everybody onboard."

The Devils activated Elias and forward Jacob Josefson (flu) off injured reserve Thursday. To make room on the roster they sent forward Mike Sislo to Albany of the American Hockey League.