The future once looked bleak for the Buffalo Sabres. Just a few days ago they didn’t have much of an idea when leading scorer Thomas Vanek and goaltender Ryan Miller would be back from their injuries.

But yesterday Vanek, out since Feb. 7 due to a fractured jaw, moved closer to returning within a week by skating with his teammates before their loss to Carolina and also revealing that he can eat more than just soup. John Vogl of the Buffalo News has the story.

MK: If the Sabres get fully healthy and hang on to a playoff spot, this could have an impact on the Boston Bruins. Other than Washington and New Jersey, the team that has played Boston more than once and given the Bruins the hardest time is the Sabres, who just seem to be a difficult match-up with their combination of speed and physical play that’s similar to Boston’s.

Elsewhere around the division:

•Rookie Tim Stapleton scored the shootout winner for Toronto last night, as the Maple Leafs moved within nine points of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

•The Maple Leafs might get Tomas Kaberle and Mike Van Ryn back from injury to bolster their backline.