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With bone chip in knee removed, Kaleta joins Sabres at practice

Patrick Kaleta, skating Saturday in a green noncontact jersey, hopes to play again before the end of the season. (Photo by John Vogl)

Patrick Kaleta, skating Saturday in a green noncontact jersey, hopes to play again before the end of the season. (Photo by John Vogl)

While recovering from surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament, Patrick Kaleta noticed he couldn't straighten or bend his knee completely. When the Sabres right winger would stick the leg out, it would begin to shake uncontrollably.

Last month, doctors found a bone chip in the knee and removed it. He feels better than he has all year, and he's already skating better.

"The way it looks in the video and stuff that we’ve done, my stride and my tracking in my knee is better than it was when I was playing," Kaleta said Saturday after practicing with his teammates for the first time since mid-February. "It’s just a matter of getting the strength back and the movement back."

Kaleta is striving to return to the lineup before the season ends April 11. The Sabres have 15 games left, including Saturday's visit by the New York Rangers.

"It’s hard keeping me away from playing with this team," Kaleta said in First Niagara Center. "I love the Sabres so much that I would do anything to be in the lineup, to be part of the team. I’m doing my best.

"I’m pretty proud of myself for coming back from the injuries that I’ve had. Not a lot of people understand the things that I had to go through. I could have easily packed it up and took my time with it, but I’m raring to get back."

Anders Lindback will start in goal against the Rangers. None of the seven defensemen did extra work following the morning skate, so the one scratch will be a game-time decision.

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