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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

For the first time in a week, the Sabres had three goalies on the ice during a practice session as Ryan Miller joined Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime at Buffalo’s optional morning skate.  Enroth will get his fourth straight start tonight when the Sabres take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at HSBC Arena, but Miller took a step forward in his recovery from an upper body injury by taking part in the skate.

“He’ll hopefully get almost a full workout with the limited practice today, but it’s a big step,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff.

If we win games, we’re in. It’s pretty simple. There’s not a lot of math that needs to be done, there’s no crazy formulas or anything. It’s just making sure that we play well and we produce the way we need to.” - Brad Boyes on the playoff race
Miller, who also skated on Monday but did not take any shots, rotated in and out of drills with Enroth and Lalime this morning while facing shots for the first time since last Tuesday’s game at Toronto.  Ruff said that the plan is to “ramp up” Miller’s workouts over the next few days and that Miller “will play when he’s ready.”

4/5 - Lindy Ruff Pregame

Enroth, meanwhile, will look to continue the run that netted him NHL Third Star of the Week honors.  In his three starts since Miller’s injury, the rookie has gone 2-0-1 with a 1.94 goals against average, a .936 save percentage and one shutout.  Each game bears a significant impact on the playoff race, which, according to Enroth, makes it fun.

“These games are very fun to play and these games are the ones you always wanted to play when you were younger, so I’m just having fun with it right now,” Enroth said.

Brad Boyes, who played his first game with Buffalo on March 1 and has helped the team go 11-4-3 since arriving, talked about the importance of each and every game.

“I think right now, we did a great job against Carolina in getting some distance from them, and it’s a matter of just continuing that,” Boyes said.  “If we win games, we’re in.  It’s pretty simple.  There’s not a lot of math that needs to be done, there’s no crazy formulas or anything.  It’s just making sure that we play well and we produce the way we need to.”

Buffalo (40-29-10, 90 points) enters tonight’s game in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a three-point lead over ninth-place Carolina.  However, the Sabres trail the Rangers (43-32-5, 91 points) and Canadiens (42-30-7, 91 points) by just one point each.

Ruff had encouraging news on Jordan Leopold’s hand injury, reporting that the defenseman will not require surgery.

“He’s seen the doctor, he’s been evaluated and the timeline will be the same.  He’ll be able to skate now,” said Ruff, who added that the timeline for Leopold’s return is “a minimum of around four weeks” from the time of the injury, which occurred March 25 against Florida.

Tampa Bay comes into tonight’s game riding a five-game winning streak and has already locked up a playoff berth.  Over the last five games, the Lightning has allowed just six goals and is coming off a 2-0 shutout win over Chicago on Sunday.  Offensively, the team is led by the dynamic pair of Martin St. Louis (30-64-94) and Steven Stamkos (44-45-89).

According to Ruff, St. Louis, who ranks second in the NHL in scoring, is an exemplary player.

“Marty is a great two-way player.  He’s a guy that, if you want to look at work ethic, you could study him and watch his game day in and day out.”

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