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At the Rink blog

Vanek back in lineup for Sabres

Monday, 03.12.2012 / 1:16 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  / At the Rink blog

The Buffalo Sabres have a chance to move into ninth place in the Eastern Conference on Monday when they play the Montreal Canadiens, and they'll get a bit of help in that quest when they get Thomas Vanek back in the lineup.

If the Sabres beat the Canadiens tonight in Buffalo (7 p.m. ET, TSN), they'll jump ahead of idle Winnipeg for ninth place, and move within four points of eighth-place Washington.

Vanek sat out Saturday's game against the Senators after getting hit hard into the boards Thursday by Boston's Johnny Boychuk.

Vanek skated with the Sabres at Monday morning's practice, the first time he'd been on the ice since getting rammed into by Boychuk.

"Each day I got a little bit better," Vanek told the Buffalo News. "Obviously the first couple of days after, just tight and stiff and sore. The last two days, I came a long way so I feel pretty good. I would like to play (Monday); especially this time of year it hurts missing games and watching them. We're not in a position to sit back and relax, obviously."

Vanek is second on the team with 23 goals and 50 points, but in 27 games since the calendar flipped to 2012, he has just 5 goals and 11 points.

We're certainly happy we got the win, but we feel we have a long way to go obviously. We're going take another step in San Jose and it is going to be a tough one.

— Los Angeles Kings forward Justin Williams said after his team's Game 4 win vs. the San Jose Sharks