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Ristolainen, Bogosian practice with Sabres, getting close to return

Buffalo's top right-handed defensemen skated Wednesday. It was a long time coming.

It could become a regular occurrence.

Injured blue-liners Rasmus Ristolainen and Zach Bogosian took part in an on-ice workout in KeyBank Center. Ristolainen has missed eight games with an upper-body injury while Bogosian has missed all 21 with a lower-body injury.

Neither will play Wednesday when the Sabres host Minnesota, but the rare sighting should be a boost for the team and its fans.

"I told everyone I'm ready," said Ristolainen, who added it's up to the coaches and medical staff when he returns. "I'm in good shape right now. I felt good. I felt fresh, and the legs were going.

"It's been long weeks lately, and I'm excited to get back."

Ristolainen was injured during the third period of a 5-4 victory in Arizona on Nov. 2. He took a shot and a hit, then met with an athletic trainer after the game.

Bogosian got hurt during the final period of Buffalo's final preseason game, suffering what's believed to be a groin injury Sept. 29.

"I just felt a tweak," Bogosian said. "I get through training camp and preseason feeling really good, liking where my game is going, and then the last period of the last preseason game it happens.

"It seems to be something you want to get frustrated about, but I don't think getting frustrated with an injury is going to help anyone."

Bogosian came close to returning once during the nearly two-month hiatus, but he re-aggravated the ailment.

"I just tried to be smart about it the second time around," he said. "It seems like I've turned the corner, and I'm just trying to now get back into practice with the team and then into a game.

"It's something that you need to skate, and that's part of my job. When you have something that keeps popping up, you try to be as smart as possible with it. But as far as worrying about it popping up down the road, anything can happen."

The ailments have contributed to Buffalo's 28th-place standing in goals allowed at 3.48 per game. The team has yet to have its anticipated top six defensemen – Ristolainen, Bogosian, Marco Scandella, Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe and Victor Antipin – available for the same game.

"It's just great to see a lot of guys on the ice and getting closer," said coach Phil Housley, who will balance caution with the injuries with the overwhelming need to start winning. "If they're ready, they're ready. We have no time to wait."

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