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by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

Patrick Kaleta has had some bad breaks this season and it looked like he could’ve faced further setbacks after the game against the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

However, the 28-year-old right wing was back at practice for the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday as a full participant.

Kaleta decided to drop the gloves with Senators defenseman Jared Cowen late in the first period and while he threw some big shots with his left hand, he took a couple of punches as well.

He was struck in the face by a slap shot in the preseason and hadn’t dropped the gloves yet this season as he is still recovering from facial surgery. He needed to have plates and screws inserted to repair the damage and he has dealt with issues with his eye all season.

“It was good to get my first one in. I felt maybe at that time, we could’ve used a little bit of a spark,” he said after practice at HARBORCENTER. “It is what it is. I don’t know if technically I should be fighting or whatever, right or wrong, but I did it. It’s over and done with and we’ll go from there.”

Then early in the third, he lost an edge while skating down the ice in the Ottawa zone and crashed violently with Cowen into the end boards. Kaleta was down for several minutes and needed assistance skating to the dressing room.

He missed the rest of the game but should be available for Wednesday night’s home tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 6 p.m..

“He’s a tough man,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “The way he went into the boards and the way he went down, we thought for sure he’d be out for awhile. Then all of a sudden, we come into the room a couple hours later, he’s got a smirk on his face. He said, ‘I’ll be ready to go.’ And certainly he was on the ice today, so that’s a good sign for us.”

When he hit the boards, Kaleta said he hit his right eye and the impaired vision was a main reason why he wasn’t allowed back in by the medical staff. He had some stitches above his right eye on Wednesday.

He said he also had the wind knocked out of him and when his hip collided with the boards, his right leg went a little numb and made him concerned about the knee he had surgery on last year. However, there was no concern there once the doctors checked it out and he feels ready to play against the Lightning.

26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 65 Brian Flynn – 21 Drew Stafford
19 Cody Hodgson – 25 Mikhail Grigorenko – 80 Chris Stewart
22 Johan Larsson – 8 Cody McCormick – 36 Patrick Kaleta

Defensemen: 3 Mark Pysyk, 24 Tyson Strachan, 41 Andrej Meszaros, 51 Nikita Zadorov, 57 Tyler Myers (injured reserve, non-contact participant), 61 Andre Benoit

1 Jhonas Enroth
34 Michal Neuvirth

Did Not Skate: 4 Josh Gorges (maintenance day), 6 Mike Weber (maintenance day), 12 Brian Gionta (injured, upper body), 17 Torrey Mitchell (injured reserve, lower body), 55 Rasmus Ristolainen (flu), 82 Marcus Foligno (injured reserve, hand)

Tyler Myers skated for a bit in a red non-contact jersey. He’s missed the past four games with a lower-body injury. He won’t be ready for Wednesday night’s game, but Nolan said that depending on how he feels, it’s possible he could be ready by the weekend. Rasmus Ristolainen did not skate as he recovers from the flu.

Tyson Strachan will be available to play. He traveled with the team to Ottawa, but wasn’t quite ready to go Monday night. He hasn’t played in five games.

With Mark Pysyk up from the American Hockey League, Buffalo currently has seven healthy defensemen on the roster. Josh Gorges and Mike Weber were given maintenance days but should be ready for Wednesday.

Center Torrey Mitchell has been out since Dec. 16 after blocking a shot off his foot. Nolan provided an update on his status Tuesday.

“I saw him today. He’s still limping around pretty good so he looks like he’s going to be out another little while,” Nolan said.

Nolan said that they will likely make a few lineup changes for Wednesday. The goaltender will remain the same as Jhonas will start once again in net.

Goaltender Matt Hackett cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Hackett injured his knee back on April 12 and has been rehabbing ever since. He’s been a participant in a number of practices, but remained on the injured reserve list.

One point of emphasis during practice was the team’s play in the neutral zone.

“Our defensive zone’s getting a lot better. Our attack’s getting a lot better. Sometimes we play the elite teams like Detroit, they pick you apart and they show you your tendencies,” Nolan said. “The one thing we learned playing against Boston and a couple of the good teams we’ve played lately, is they’ve started picking our neutral ice apart a little bit. We have to tighten that up a little bit.”

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