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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
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While he’s not quite ready to return to the lineup, Pat Kaleta was at least back on the ice Monday afternoon.

The winger practiced with the team in a non-contact mode after undergoing thumb surgery a week ago. Kaleta has missed the last five games due to the ailment.

“He can skate now,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “He obviously just can’t use his hand to the full extent yet, but we can get him back in skating shape.”

Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly – who are both suffering from lower body injuries – were not able to join their teammates for the workout. However, Ruff said the pair is improving.
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“Thomas actually went for a little bit of a skate today. Tim is back riding the bike and doing well with that,” Ruff said. “I’m optimistic that we’ll get them back on the ice maybe later in the week. Whether they’ll be able to play or not, I don’t know.”

If they are ready, Ruff said he would like to get each of them some ice time down the stretch before playoffs begin.
“I think the game conditioning would be good,” he said.

While Connolly and Vanek continue to heal, Craig Rivet may also be added to the questionable category. The Sabres’ captain left practice prematurely due to sickness.

“He wasn’t feeling well,” Ruff said. “We had a couple players battling a little bit of flu-like symptoms so he was one of them and just didn’t feel well. We sent him home.”

The Buffalo Sabres have a chance to clinch the Northeast Division in their final regular season home game against the New York Rangers. With Ottawa dropping a 3-2 decision to the Florida Panthers on Saturday, Buffalo now only needs two points to seal the deal and could get it Tuesday night at HSBC Arena.

“I told the players we want to play the role as a spoiler right now,” Ruff said. “I want to break some teams’ hearts and ruin a few dreams on the way to the final week. We knew how tough it was last year down the stretch and we don’t want anybody getting any ‘gimmies’ off of us.”

Fans attending Tuesday’s regular season home finale against the New York Rangers will also have the opportunity to win a guaranteed prize of $20,000 in the Sabres Alumni 50/50 Raffle.

Tickets are only $1 each, with proceeds going to support the Buffalo Junior Sabres, the Alumni Scholarship Program and the Sabres Foundation. Tickets will be sold through the end of the 2nd period, and the winning ticket number will be announced during the 3rd period.

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