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Sabres' injured Vanek steps up practice

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Sabres' injured Vanek steps up practice
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Georges Laraque is checked into the glass by Buffalo Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek (26), in Buffalo, N.Y., Feb. 17, 2008. (UPI Photo/Jerome Davis) | License Photo

BUFFALO, N.Y., April 25 (UPI) -- Injured Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek has stepped up his skating practice but his return to the lineup is still uncertain, head Coach Lindy Ruff said.

Ruff - speaking to reporters Sunday as the team prepared for Monday night's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against Boston -- said Vanek has taken a step forward in his drills as he recovers from an ankle sprain sustained in Game 2's loss, NHL.com reported.

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Ruff said there is a possibility the Sabres' leading scorer could suffer a setback as he engages in more physical contact.

"We're going to try to get him involved in some battle drills, which he hasn't been involved in," Ruff told the Web site. "We'll get a pretty good idea of where he's at. I think you run the risk when you start getting him involved physically that you could set it back. We don't know."

Vanek was hurt when he was checked from behind by the Bruins' Johnny Boychuk. Both slid into the endboards and Vanek limped back to the Buffalo bench. Boston went on to win 5-3.

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The Bruins hold a 3-2 series advantage.

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