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Canucks center Malhotra cleared to practice @NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Canucks center Manny Malhotra has been cleared for light contact in practice for the first time since a career-threatening eye injury in mid-March.

The decision Friday opens the possibility that the team's popular locker room leader could return when the Stanley Cup finals start Wednesday.

Malhotra rejoined the Canucks at practice just over two weeks ago, first skating in a team-colored tracksuit and full-face shield. The shield remains to protect an eye that had surgery twice since being hit by a deflected puck during a game on March 16.

The Canucks advanced to the finals by winning the Western Conference title in five games over the San Jose Sharks.

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