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Mrazek Returns to Practice on Long Island

Goaltender has missed the last four games after being injured in Toronto

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Petr Mrazek was back on the ice with the Carolina Hurricanes in practice on Friday afternoon at Northwell Health Ice Center.

Cleared by doctors in Raleigh on Thursday, Mrazek then joined the team in Philadelphia that evening. Friday marked his first practice since he suffered a concussion in Toronto on Feb. 22.

Mrazek rotated into the crease with Alex Nedeljkovic and Anton Forsberg and said he was feeling good, if not a little sore, after the skate.

"That's the first step in getting him back, and he looked pretty good," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Hopefully we'll have a good report tomorrow on how he did, get him up to speed as fast as we can and get him into a game."

Tweet from @Canes: Practice in (on?) Long Island pic.twitter.com/BxP17sNIih

With matinee games on both Saturday and Sunday, the Canes are not scheduled to practice again until Monday in Detroit. Mrazek, then, might be looking at a return to the lineup next week, possibly against his former team on Tuesday.

How his body and mind react to taking pucks again will be the determining factor on when he gets back into game action.

"Whatever he needs. It doesn't matter to me. If he feels like he can go, we'll probably put him in," Brind'Amour said. "I'd like to get him in a full practice just for comfort and conditioning. He's been out a long time. We'll play it by ear with how he's doing."

Before he went down in the second period of what turned out to be a made-for-Hollywood victory for the Canes in Toronto, Mrazek had a 2.51 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in his last five appearances.

In other injury news, Sami Vatanen did not practice with the Canes on Friday. He was a limited participant for a short period of practice on Wednesday and then skated very briefly on Thursday morning before leaving the ice, and Brind'Amour was not encouraged with the defenseman's progress in returning from a lower-body injury.

"This is a tough injury. He came off. That's not good," Brind'Amour said on Thursday. "We were hoping to get him closer to playing, and now it looks like he's further away, so we'll have to monitor that."

The Canes are tasked with two vital divisional matinees this weekend: the New York Islanders, who the Canes trail by three points with one game in hand, on Saturday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.

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