Never one to pass up a chance to rib one of his teammates, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur assessed Ilya Kovalchuk’s performance in his first game back since injuring his right shoulder on March 23.

“We scored six goals and he didn’t even have an assist,” Brodeur joked.

Then Brodeur added: “It’s been a while since he played and you could tell sometimes. But he definitely opens up a lot of room because they have to pay attention to him. It opened it up for Patty (Elias).”

Kovalchuk, who missed 11 games, was greeted with cheers from the crowd of 16,018 both in the pregame warmup and when he took his first shift.

“It felt great. Even when I wasn’t playing and people saw me in the stands they’d always wish me to get healthy and be back soon,” Kovalchuk said. “People around New Jersey are very supportive.”

The right winger, who turned 30 during his time off, said he felt fine after being hit and taking one-timers.

“No problem. No pain. Minus-1, though,” he said. “You don’t want to be minus when the team wins, 6-2. It doesn’t matter, but as a line we want to produce.

“The first couple of shifts I wasn’t in game shape. After the first five minutes I got a couple hits and I felt more comfortable and started playing better.”

He shrugged off the hits he absorbed.

“I knew I’d feel good because I did in practice,” he said. “I wasn’t worrying about it at all. Tomorrow (suspended defenseman Anton Volchenkov) is back, so I hope he doesn’t hit me during the game.”