CHICAGO -- After taking a hit from behind and getting a scare Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues left wing Brenden Morrow is well enough to play Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Morrow, 34, took a shot from the Sharks' Brent Burns that sent him crashing into the boards and he left for a stretch in the first period but returned to finish the game. Morrow sat out practice Wednesday in St. Louis but was on the ice Thursday morning and gave the thumbs-up after testing his neck area.
"Yeah, I was just out, moved around a little bit and made sure everything was working properly and where it should be," Morrow said. "I've had some neck problems and I've put in a lot of time [rehabilitating]. I'm trying to keep it healthy and it freaked me out a little bit and got a burner going. It's just letting it settle down. That nerve gets a little irritated at times and it was just about letting it settle down and I think it's run its course."
Burns received a minor penalty for boarding on the play. There was some question whether Morrow was trying to apply a reverse hit on the play, which he said was not the case.
"No, I definitely wasn't reverse-hitting," Morrow said. "I think it was [Joe] Thornton's puck that came across and I just wanted to make sure the [defenseman] didn't jump by me so I wanted to take the low angle at it. I think just as when I was turning to go back up I actually wasn't prepared for it. I didn't know [Burns] was there. I know there was a defenseman more than likely going to be pinching on the puck so I just wanted to make sure I met him. I was a little off-balance at the time."
The Blues also will get their first look at left wing Magnus Paajarvi, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in an offseason trade for David Perron. Paajarvi, 22, will take the place of Maxim Lapierre, who will be in New York on Friday for an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety following a boarding major Tuesday that injured San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle.
"To me, if he plays like he practices we're going to have ourselves a heck of a good player," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Paajarvi. "He's been great at practice. He's waited patiently for his spot and now it's time to play. … I didn't know much about him other than watching him on video but he's a better offensive player than I thought and we're going to find out. He's got great instincts transition-wise and he has the ability to put a lot of pressure on defensemen. One step with him and he's gone. He's a very similar player to [Viktor] Stalberg that was [in Chicago] last year."
Paajarvi said he is eager to make his Blues debut.
"I feel like I've done what I needed to do and what I need to do every day," Paajarvi said. "Hopefully I can bring my abilities when I get the chance.
"Patience is a very big factor here, especially for me. Mentally you can feel you're not on the team but that hasn't been the case yet. I feel very comfortable on this team. I feel like I fit in with this team on the ice and off the ice as well."
The Blues and Blackhawks will meet for the second time in this season. The Blues won the first meeting in St. Louis on Oct. 9 when Alexander Steen scored off an odd-man rush with 22 seconds remaining in regulation in a 3-2 victory.
The game still lingered for the Blackhawks, whose only regulation loss came in St. Louis, but coach Joel Quenneville said he's finally gotten past it.
"I’m over it now," Quenneville said with a big grin. "It bothered me a bit. It's one of those games where you say, 'It's tough to give up a point, potentially two,' but you have to move on."
"We let one go there," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We wanted to get off to a good start on the road. We know they're going to come back hard. They had a tough game the other night [a 6-2 loss to San Jose]. So we have to take advantage of being in our own building and be more aggressive."
Blues center David Backes will skate in his 500th career game Thursday, making him only the second American-born player [Keith Tkachuk] to skate in 500 games in a Blues uniform. Tkachuk dressed in 640 of his 1,201 games with the Blues. Backes was drafted by the Blues with a second round pick in 2003.
Here are the probable lineups for the two teams Thursday at United Center:
Suspended: Maxim Lapierre