The Sabres, however, might still have to play without their leading goal scorer as they search for their fourth straight victory Friday night when they host the winless New York Islanders.
Vanek suffered an upper body injury after scoring his second goal in the second period of Tuesday night's 6-2 victory over visiting Detroit. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff initially said he expected the left wing to miss a couple of weeks.
Vanek, however, returned to practice Thursday. Ruff wouldn't rule him out for this weekend's back-to-back home games, but the two-time 40-goal scorer is doubtful for Friday.
Vanek has three of Buffalo's 10 goals this season. Clarke MacArthur is the only other player to score more than once.
"Hopefully, I'll wake up tomorrow and feel great, but like I said, I'm taking it day-by-day and if it's not, hopefully Saturday," Vanek told the Sabres' official Web site.
Last season, Vanek missed nine games in February with a broken jaw and goaltender Ryan Miller was out for a 13-game span from late February to late March with a sprained left ankle.
Buffalo went 7-10-2 without their two All-Stars and eventually missed the playoffs by three points.
Miller's play this season is a major reason why the Sabres (3-0-1) remain one of two teams without a regulation loss along with Dallas.
Miller has allowed five goals while starting all four games. He stopped 23 shots in Tuesday's victory, and Derek Roy had three of his team-leading five assists as Buffalo more than doubled its scoring output.
"We finally exploded," Miller said. "We weren't getting the goals the first few games, but that's what we're capable of."
The early success of No. 1 overall pick John Tavares hasn't carried over to the Islanders (0-3-1), who remain one of two winless teams along with Toronto.
New York tallied eight goals in its first three games but suffered two shootout defeats and an overtime loss. The Islanders didn't score in Monday's 2-1 loss to visiting Los Angeles until 1:55 remained.
The loss spoiled the team's best goaltending performance this season from former Sabre Martin Biron.
Given his team's young roster, captain Doug Weight knows there's little margin for error at either end of the ice.
"There are no smoke and mirrors," Weight said. "We have to play pretty perfect for 60 minutes."
Weight is switching to the wing for the first time in his career to help the team's younger players develop at center. That includes Tavares, who has a team-best five points on two goals and three assists.
Matt Moulson is the only other player to score multiple goals, tallying his second in Monday's defeat.
Biron and another former Sabre, Dwayne Roloson, have split time in net this season, but the Islanders could look to Biron on Friday. He won all four meetings last season against Buffalo with Philadelphia, while Roloson is 0-4-1 with one tie all-time versus the Sabres.
Miller is expected to get a rest this weekend but that could come Saturday against Atlanta. He's won three straight over New York with a 2.28 GAA while Patrick Lalime is 2-5-0 with two ties in his last nine matchups.
The teams split four meetings last season, but Buffalo has won six of eight at home since Oct. 5, 2005.