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Panthers' Gudbranson returns to practice

Florida defenseman recovering from upper-body injury

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who missed the last three games of the regular season, practiced Monday when the Florida Panthers began their preparations for the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Islanders.

Game 1 is Thursday at BB&T Center (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports).

Gudbranson was paired with Brian Campbell at practice. He was sent home after sustaining an upper-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens last Monday.

"It looks like Erik will be ready to go," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said.

Aaron Ekblad, who played with Campbell the last few weeks of the regular season, was paired with Dmitry Kulikov.

Captain Willie Mitchell, who hasn't played since Jan. 18 because of a concussion and has been contemplating retirement, was also at practice.

The only players missing were center Vincent Trocheck (foot) and defenseman Steven Kampfer (lower body). Trocheck was tied for the Panthers lead with 25 goals when he was injured March 29 while blocking a shot against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"He is day-to-day and hopefully sooner than later," Tallon said.

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