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January 5, 2011 3:00 pm

Ponikarovsky, Mitchell updates

Alexei Ponikarovsky returned to practice today, wearing a green jersey along with fourth-line forwards Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth. That means Ponikarovsky, who has missed the past five games, is nearing a return, but Terry Murray said Ponikarovsky will not play Thursday against Nashville.

MURRAY: “Not quite, but very close now. He had a great workout yesterday, off and on the ice, as Willie Mitchell did. He participated in the early part of the practice, so I think he’s starting to get the itch that he’s going to get back in here real soon. I think he’s feeling much more comfortable with the ankle. It’s almost day to day with him now.”

As for Willie Mitchell, who has missed the past 10 games, Mitchell is not yet participating in full-team practices but has been skating and doing drills, post-practice, with teammates.

“Still a little bit away,” Murray said of Mitchell’s status. “Closer every day, but still probably days away.”

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