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Ennis will return against Blackhawks, giving Sabres rare dose of health up front

The Sabres will play their 34th game Saturday. It will be just the sixth time they’ll have three healthy scoring lines.

Tyler Ennis, who has missed 15 games with an upper-body injury, will return for the 1 p.m. showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks in First Niagara Center.

“Yeah, I’m excited to get back,” Ennis said Friday after practice in HarborCenter. “We seem to be playing a really good team game, so I’m just trying to jump in the lineup, provide a spark and hopefully put one in the net.”

The Sabres haven’t had three healthy scoring lines since a five-game run from Oct. 15-24. Before Ennis went out, Zemgus Girgensons was hurt. Evander Kane preceded him on the injured list. Brian Gionta started the season on the sidelines.

The lines in practice were Jamie McGinn-Ryan O’Reilly-Sam Reinhart, Kane-Jack Eichel-Ennis, Girgensons-Johan Larsson-Gionta and Matt Moulson-David Legwand-Nicolas Deslauriers. Cal O'Reilly skated as an extra. Marcus Foligno, who practiced in noncontact role, is the only forward banged up.

“We’re finally going to be healthy in our top six, which we haven’t been in a while,” said coach Dan Bylsma, who has noticed a little pep in the laid-back Ennis. “He’s not a guy who comes off with a lot of excitement, but the last few days he’s been pretty excited to get back to health and possibly get back out there. We’re going to need him out there. Our power play, he’s going to get inserted there and probably play next to Jack and Evander for a good portion of the game.”

Chad Johnson, who had a 44-save shutout of Anaheim on Thursday, will start in goal against the Blakhawks.

“They’ve been probably the best team in the league for the last five years,” Ennis said. “It’s going to be a fun one, a really good test for us to see where we’re at. I’m excited to get back.”

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