Sabres LW Thomas Vanek returns to practice, expected to be ready for opener

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek and backup goalie Patrick Lalime have both returned to practice and are anticipated to be ready for the team’s season opener.

Vanek says he feels ready to play after skating Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a head injury in a 5-3 pre-season win at Montreal last week. Lalime has been bothered by a groin injury.

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Coach Lindy Ruff said there’s a good chance for both players to be cleared to play Friday, when Buffalo opens at Ottawa.

Defenceman Craig Rivet has also been cleared to play after hurting his neck in practice on Sept. 24.

Ruff also said the Sabres waived fourth-line forward Matt Ellis, who will report to the minors if not claimed by another team.