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Sabres' Vanek returns after missing 9 games @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Buffalo goal leader Thomas Vanek returned to the Sabres' lineup Wednesday night against Montreal after missing nine games because of a broken jaw.

Vanek, who played the 300th game of his career, wore a helmet featuring a protective guard around his mouth. He entered the game third in the NHL with 15 power-play goals, and second among Sabres with 52 points, including a team-leading 32 goals this season.

Buffalo went 3-5-1 without Vanek, including two shutout losses.

Maxim Afinongenov also returned after missing 24 games because of a groin injury.

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Afinogenov had requested a trade, but the team was unable to work out a deal. The right winger is completing the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak missed the game because of the flu. Carey Price made his first start in four games, and Montreal called up goalie Marc Denis from Hamilton of the AHL to serve as the backup. Halak is scheduled to meet the team in Atlanta for its game against the Thrashers on Friday night.

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