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Canucks' Miller back from injury, could practice Friday

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Goalie Ryan Miller is expected to return from a groin injury and rejoin the Vancouver Canucks at practice Friday after goalie Joe Cannata was sent to Utica of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

Miller, who was injured during a Dec. 20 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, told after Vancouver's 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday he hoped to practice Friday and get clearance from the medical staff to back up Jacob Markstrom against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

The Canucks had a day off Thursday and coach Willie Desjardins said earlier in the week that Miller would probably need three or four practices before he was able to start a game. Whenever Miller is ready to start, it almost certainly won't be as often as he did earlier this season.

Miller had a .928 save percentage through the first month but his play and statistics slipped after playing the Canucks' first 10 games and 14 of the first 15 while Markstrom recovered from a hamstring injury sustained on the final day of preseason.

Miller is 10-11-6 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .909 save percentage but has played his best games after periods of rest amid a schedule that included 17 of 23 games on the road before he was injured.

Markstrom is 4-2-0 with a .929 save percentage in the six games Miller missed, and 5-5-3 with a 2.45 GAA and .919 save percentage in his first full NHL season. Desjardins said several times Markstrom has earned the right to play more, which allows the Canucks to keep Miller, 35, rested between starts.

Cannata, Vancouver's sixth-round pick (No. 173) in the 2009 NHL Draft, didn't get into any games during his time with the Canucks.

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