Manny Malhotra sits out Game 1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks center Manny Malhotra sat out Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night.

Malhotra is attempting to return from a career-threatening eye injury. He sat out practice Tuesday, but Canucks general manager Mike Gillis refused to call it a setback in Malhotra's surprising comeback.

Malhotra was hit in the left eye by a deflected puck March 16 and has since undergone at least two surgeries.

"This has been a day-to-day thing all along," Gillis said Tuesday. "Today was a day where they felt it would be best if he stayed away. He'll be back around the team (Wednesday), we anticipate. We have to be really patient with this. We have to rein him in a little bit, because he's very enthusiastic."

Malhotra returned to practice two weeks ago, skating in a tracksuit and a full-face shield. He was cleared for light contact last Friday, and Vigneault said last weekend that Malhotra had been cleared to play in the Stanley Cup finals.

Malhotra is a faceoff specialist and a gifted defensive forward. He was second in the NHL in faceoff wins at 61.7 percent and a big part of the league's top-ranked penalty kill at the time of his injury.

Malhotra was expected to return on the fourth line instead of his usual third-line shutdown role in the Stanley Cup finals, but Alex Bolduc said Tuesday he'll center Vancouver's fourth line in Game 1 with speedster Jeff Tambellini and Victor Oreskovich. Bolduc and Tambellini each has appeared in just two postseason games this spring.

Aaron Rome and Christian Ehrhoff returned to Vancouver's lineup after missing the last two games.

Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard were out.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.