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VANEK READY TO RETURN

Monday, 03.12.2012 / 12:05 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com (@kwsnow) / THE MORNING SKATE
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THE MORNING SKATE
VANEK READY TO RETURN

LINEUP NEWS
- Thomas Vanek and Patrick Kaleta are both expected to play tonight
- Ryan Miller expected to get the start in goal.
- Matt Ellis out with a knee injury; Andrej Sekera has been diagnosed with pneumonia

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING
Lindy Ruff (listen to the full audio)
Thomas Vanek says he feels better – will he play tonight?
It looks like he’s ready to go so we’ll get him back in. I don’t know after three days absence how that will affect him; we’ll see.

It has to be a boost just to have Vanek available to you?
We’re getting a good player back in the lineup, so it’s definitely a positive for us.

What’s the latest on Ellis and Sekera?
Sekera has taken another turn for the worse; he hasn’t even left home yet. I think he’s been diagnosed with pneumonia. So it’s not good. With Ellis, he’s gonna be gone for a good period of time with a knee injury. I can’t put a time frame on (how long he’ll be out), but it’s not good.

TONIGHT’S GAME
CANADIENS at SABRES
-Fifth of six meetings between the Sabres and Canadiens this season.
-Last meeting: Montreal defeated Buffalo, 4-3 (SO), in Buffalo on Feb. 17.
-The teams meet next on Wednesday, March 21 in Buffalo.
-The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Canadiens; 6-2-2 at home.
-This is the 252nd game all-time between Buffalo and Montreal; the Sabres are 114-100-37 against the Canadiens (66-34-24 at home).

STORYLINES
- The Sabres (7-2-1) have 15 points in their last 10 games, trailing only Dallas (19), Pittsburgh (18) and St. Louis (18) for most points in their last 10 games. They have won four straight at home for the first time since closing last season with wins in their last five home games.
- Buffalo enters tonight’s game two points out of a playoff spot after beginning the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.
- The Sabres are 10-5-4 against the Northeast Division this season, including a 3-0-1 record against the Canadiens. Buffalo has gone 6-0-1 in their last seven against the Habs, dating back to Nov. 27, 2010.
- Derek Roy has five points (1+4) against the Canadiens this season and leads all Sabres with 35 (12+23) in 45 career games against the Habs.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Buffalo is 26-3-2 when allowing two or fewer goals and 23-4-3 when scoring three or more… The Sabres are 14-5-3 with Corey Tropp in the lineup… Matt Ellis left Saturday’s game with a lower body injury… The Sabres are 10-1-3 when Tyler Ennis records a point this season and 37-9-7 when he tallies a point in his career… Marcus Foligno recorded his first career point with a goal on Saturday at OTT… Buffalo has played a league-high 12 overtime games at home… Jason Pominville ranks fourth in the league with 41 points (16+25) in 35 home games.

KILLING IT
The Sabres were only whistled for one penalty in each of their last two games, and killed off each power play attempt. Buffalo has killed off 18 straight penalties entering tonight, and the team hasn’t allowed a power play goal since Feb. 24 vs. BOS.

IT’S MILLER TIME
Ryan Miller is 8-1-1 in his last 10 games with a .945 save percentage and a 1.76 goals against average, and 13-3-3 in his last 19 games with a 1.89 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.

FINISHING STRONG AFTER THE BREAK
Buffalo is 537-400-183 (.561) all-time in games after the All-Star break. This includes a record of 86-47-21 (.627) in those games since the lockout. The Sabres are 11-5-3 (.658) since the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.

BATTLING BACK
The Sabres began the day on Feb. 17 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot after a 7-2 loss at PHI the night before. Since then, the team has gone 8-2-2, allowing 2.00 goals per game. Only one team in NHL history has overcome a 10-point deficit this late in the season, when the New York Islanders rallied from a 10-point hole on Feb. 18, 1994 to snag eighth place in the conference.

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