ATLANTA -- Hope the boards in Philips Arena are bolted down good because Patrick Kaleta's six-game wait to get back on the ice is over.
Coach Lindy Ruff said the physical winger will be back in the lineup tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers after being in the press box since suffering a leg injury Dec. 27 against St. Louis. Matt Ellis will join Nathan Paetsch and Andrej Sekera on the scratch list. Kaleta will be in Ellis' spot on the fourth line with Paul Gaustad and Adam Mair.
"We want to get Pat going," Ruff said after the Sabres' pregame skate ended early this afternoon. "He had played really well before he went out. I think we can use his speed, we can use his physicality. We'll have to look at rotating a couple guys (as scratches) because it's a pretty group up front that's worked hard."
Kaleta has played a total of just 16 minutes, 59 seconds in the last 13 games. He was felled by Jarkko Ruutu's hit Dec. 16 in Ottawa and missed the last two periods of that game as well as the next one. He returned to play just 4:57 Dec. 19 against Pittsburgh but his sore neck wasn't healed enough to continue. He sat out three more and played just 6:46 Dec. 27 in St. Louis before injuring his leg in a collision with the net. He hasn't played since and really has been healthy for at least the last three games.
"It's been pretty tough," Kaleta said . "I'm glad the team has been playing the way they have and getting wins but on a personal level I want to be in there and helping out this team. Sitting in the press box, you feel pretty secluded from everyone else. I'm just happy to get back in the lineup. ... Tonight, I'm feeling good and raring to go."
It will be Ryan Miller (25-8-3, 2.04, .935) in goal for Buffalo against Atlanta's Ondrej Pavelec (10-12-3, 3.55, .902). Nik Antropov (hip) has missed four games for Atlanta and is questionable. Ex-Sabre Maxim Afinogenov, who has 16 goals on the season but just five in the last 21 games, is no longer playing with star Ilya Kovalchuk. He's on a line with Marty Reasoner and Colby Armstrong.
Stat to note: The Thrashers are 12-3-3 here all-time against Buffalo and the Sabres haven't won in this building since a 4-3 shootout win on Feb. 6, 2007. Their last regulation win here was Jan. 31, 2006.
taggedex-Sabres | Sabres | Sabres game day