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Hossa aims to play for Blackhawks on Sunday

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa is expected to return from an upper-body injury Sunday at United Center against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2, NBCSN).

Hossa has missed the past five games with the injury, which he sustained against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1 at Soldier Field in the final game of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

After full participation in a spirited practice Saturday, which included 1-on-1 battle drills, Hossa said he feels good enough to play against his former team.

"Most likely, yes," he said. "Today was a good practice, good drills. It was a great test for me and I felt pretty good."

Hossa, who has 24 goals and 50 points in 57 games, is a vital cog in the Blackhawks lineup at both ends of the ice. He plays right wing on the top unit during even strength and key roles on both special teams.

Chicago (38-15-14) has lost two straight games and has three of its past five, all without Hossa. The defending Stanley Cup champions are 6-7-3 in their past 16 games, so getting Hossa back should be a boost.

"He certainly adds every piece you look for in a player," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "So, all areas of our game should get enhanced with him in the lineup. He's excited about getting back, but you watch him skate and he just adds speed that's kind of been lacking in our team game, puck support and power play, penalty killing … he's one of the best players in the League. He's definitely going to make a difference."

Chicago is locked in a tight race for positioning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Colorado Avalanche, who are one point ahead in second place in the Central Division. Earning home-ice advantage is a motivator.

"We've got 15 games left, so it's going to be a great chase towards the end of the season to get the best [playoff position] as possible," Hossa said. "Same for me. I'll try to it ASAP and I'll just try to play my game."

Quenneville, who was upset by the Blackhawks' performance in a 3-2 loss at home Friday against the Nashville Predators, appeared to juggle his forward lines at practice.

He moved Kris Versteeg to the left wing on the top line with center Jonathan Toews and Hossa. Left wing Bryan Bickell was moved from the third line to the second to play with center Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane. Patrick Sharp was put on the left wing of the third line with center Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad.

"[Hossa is] a great player and it's always nice when you have a full lineup," Sharp said. "Whether he plays or not [Sunday] shouldn't change the way the rest of us approach the game, but obviously adding a guy like [him] will help."

Detroit will be without forward Todd Bertuzzi, who according to the Detroit Free Press will not play because of a lower-body injury. The Red Wings on Saturday recalled forward Jordin Tootoo from Grand rapids of the American Hockey League.

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