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Pahlsson practices, but won't rush back
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/12/2009 12:00 AM

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Sammy Pahlsson looked good buzzing around the ice at Wednesday's morning skate.

"I didn't feel great out there," Pahlsson said. "But I didn't expect it either."

It was Pahlsson's first practice since late January, when he went out of Anaheim's lineup with mononucleosis. Pahlsson could make his Hawks debut at some point next week, but the 31-year-old center won't push it.

"I want to get out there and they want me to get out there, but if I rush it and pull something, I'll be out for three weeks," said Pahlsson, who has a history of abdominal strains. "It's very frustrating, but it's just a situation where you have to wait."

Pahlsson struggled with his wind Wednesday, which was to be expected after such a long layoff.

"What he went through, I'm sure there's a lot of building up that he's needing to do here," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think as he starts progressing on a regular basis he'll start feeling good, but that was his first practice so I wouldn't expect him to be saying that he's ready to go in the lineup tomorrow. I think it was progress for us."

A few twirls around the ice confirmed what Pahlsson already knew.

"It's a skilled group and it shows in practice," Pahlsson said.

Injury report: Nikolai Khabibulin was activated Wednesday morning and on the bench as Cristobal Huet's backup against Carolina.

This paves the way for Khabibulin to start Friday when Columbus visits the United Center for a critical Western Conference game.

Khabibulin probably could have played Wednesday.

"I think he wouldn't be (activated) if he wasn't close to 100 percent," Joel Quenneville said. "Some people dive in, some people put their foot in the water. Either way, I'm comfortable with it and he's ready to go."

Martin Havlat didn't play Wednesday because a lower body injury the Hawks still insist isn't serious.

"Hopefully he can take practice (today), and hopefully he can play Friday," Quenneville said.

Patrick Sharp did some light skating Wednesday for the first time since Feb. 14, when he hurt his left knee.

Sharp said he was hoping to play next week, although Quenneville cautioned it might be a little longer.

Tip-ins: The Hawks' first-period penalty for too many men on the ice was their 12th bench minor of the season. Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 13. ... Dustin Byfuglien took Martin Havlat's place at right wing on the line with Dave Bolland and Andrew Ladd.