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Vanek injury could be killer for Buffalo

Dec 23, 2011, 1:53 PM EDT

Thomas Vanek AP

In a season marred by injuries, the Sabres might’ve suffered their worst one yet.

Leading goalscorer Thomas Vanek didn’t leave the dressing room after the second intermission of last night’s 3-2 loss to Toronto. He finished with just 10:50 of ice time and didn’t record a shot on goal for the second-straight game — evidence the upper-body injury that’s kept him from practicing this week is a significant issue.

“It’s the same thing he’s been nursing. He couldn’t go,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Vanek leaving the contest. “He’s missed two practices. We didn’t have a lot of options. He tried to get through it and wasn’t able to.”

Nobody’s sure when or how Vanek suffered the injury, though there’s plenty of speculation trying to pinpoint it. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News notes Vanek took a hit from Pittsburgh’s James Neal just prior to scoring on Saturday; Vanek wouldn’t specify the injury, but did say he got hurt during the Penguins game.

Vanek leads the team with 17 goals and has 36 points through 34 games. Should he miss any (more) time, he’ll join Tyler Ennis, Colin Stuart, Jochen Hecht, Corey Tropp, Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Myers, Brad Boyes and Ville Leino as Sabres currently out because of injury.

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