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Marian Hossa will return and Spencer Abbott will make his Blackhawks debut on their top line when the team hosts the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Hossa and Abbott were on the top line with Jonathan Toews as the Blackhawks switched up lines entering this rare home back-to-back against Buffalo and Carolina. Ryan Hartman moved to the third line with Richard Panik and Tanner Kero while Andrew Desjardins, Dennis Rasmussen and Vinnie Hinostroza made up the fourth line.

Hossa was originally expected to join the team in St. Louis for the Winter Classic but took some extra time to get over his upper-body injury.

“I feel better,” Hossa said. “Definitely, had the first practice after a long time and felt good. So that’s a good thing.”

[SHOP: Gear up Blackhawks fans!]

Abbott, meanwhile, was recalled on Wednesday night from Rockford and was immediately put on the Blackhawks’ top line.

“First, maybe it’s a little nerve-wracking,” Abbott said following practice. “They’re obviously very, very high-end guys. It’s a privilege to be out there on the same line as them. I’ll do what I can to keep up.”

Corey Crawford will get the nod against the Sabres and coach Joel Quenneville said it’s “likely” Scott Darling starts vs. the Hurricanes on Friday. This is the first time the Blackhawks have had a home back-to-back since Oct. 11-12, 2013 (New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres, respectively).


Tyler Motte was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday and was in their lineup that night. Quenneville said it’s a chance for Motte to regain his game.

“We wanted Motter playing in all situations, [get] more ice time and get that confidence back,” Quenneville said.