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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Ales Kotalik (Photo: Bill Wippert)
After missing the last seven games with a hamstring injury, Ales Kotalik is set to return to the lineup tonight.

The winger hurt his leg Nov. 14 during a game against the Blue Jackets when he attempted to hurdle a fallen Columbus forward late in the third period.

Ales Kotalik: Audio | Video
Derek Roy:
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Lindy Ruff:
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Thomas Vanek:

Kotalik said although it looked like hurt himself by landing awkwardly on his leg, the injury actually occurred when he jumped and he felt the muscle tighten.

“I never experienced any muscle injury in my career so it was an unusual rehab for me,” he said. “I was working through all the pain and you have to do all the exercises for that particular part of the muscle, which hurts. It wasn’t easy but two weeks isn’t that much to miss and it could have been way worse.”

Ruff said Kotalik will be used in regular duty tonight as the Sabres take on the Nashville Predators, including being back on the power play.

“There is nothing like being back in a game,” Ruff said. “We’re going to try to throw him in the fire and see if we can utilize his shot and utilize his size.”

Although the Sabres gain one winger tonight in Kotalik, they will be without another forward in Pat Kaleta who was injured in Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kaleta took a hard hit on the boards from Andrei Kostitsyn in the third period and did not return to the ice. Ruff labeled it a “head and neck” injury but did not give a timetable for the winger’s return.

“It’s more of a neck injury than anything else,” Ruff said. “We’ll just wait and see how long that’s going to be. He didn’t skate yesterday and it might be a little bit of time.”

To keep some grit in the lineup Ruff said that Andrew Peters will dress for the game. The winger practiced alongside Adam Mair and Kotalik in the morning skate.

UPDATED 6:04 PM: Craig Rivet will not play in tonight's game due to an upper body injury.
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