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Florida Panthers forward Todd Bertuzzi, still sidelined while recovering from back surgery, skated for 30 minutes without pain Saturday, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and said he expected to return to practice in about two weeks.

"I can see the end coming, for sure," Bertuzzi said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "Now it's just a matter of the back staying strong and holding itself and getting back in shape. ... I haven't had any problems after the skates, so it's a good sign."

Bertuzzi had the surgery on Nov. 2 and has not played in a game since Oct. 18 at Washington. The Panthers have struggled all season in his absence, amassing just a 17-21-9 record -- good for last place in the Southeast Division.

Bertuzzi did not offer an estimate as to when he would return to game action but does hope to be practicing by the end of January.

"I have to get a handful of good skates in on my own, and try to get with the guys for about two weeks so I can start doing drills, then slowly get into contact and see how that goes," he said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Bertuzzi, in his first season with Florida after seven-plus years with the Vancouver Canucks, was acquired in June in a trade for goaltender Roberto Luongo. He has tallied 50 or more points in each of the last six seasons, with his best campaign coming in 2002-2003 when he recorded 97 points for the Canucks.
 
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