Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie returned to practice on Friday morning after missing the previous five games with a lower-body injury suffered against the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 11.

MacKenzie was an extra skater with Dryden Hunt as the Panthers practiced with 15 forwards for the first time in a while on Friday. Florida coach Bob Boughner said MacKenzie was fully cleared for contact, with the plan to play Saturday against the Blackhawks.

“Once he gets off the ice, we’re going to talk to him, see how he feels, how he dealt with the practice and then make a decision whether tomorrow’s the day or it’s going to be on the road trip,” Boughner said.

Forward Radim Vrbata, who was hit in the face with a puck on Saturday in Los Angeles, did not practice with an eye on a return during the road trip through New Jersey and New York next week.