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Sabres rule out C Connolly; LW Vanek set to return @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Buffalo Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek is ready to return from a groin injury, while center Tim Connolly will miss the final three games of the season.

Coach Lindy Ruff provided the update after practice Wednesday, a day after Buffalo clinched the Northeast Division title.

Ruff ruled out Connolly, saying the play-making center has not been cleared to skate because of a lower body injury. Connolly has missed six games.

Vanek's missed five games, and practiced for a second straight day. He's expected to return for Buffalo's final two games at Ottawa on Saturday and at New Jersey on Sunday.

The Sabres play at Boston on Thursday.

Patrick Lalime's status is uncertain after the backup goalie missed practice due to an illness.

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