ST. LOUIS - Brian Elliott
will start tonight when the Blues meet the Nashville Predators at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena (FSMW, KMOX 1120).
Elliott returns after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury sustained in the Nov. 25 game vs. Ottawa. The Blues goaltender had been practicing with the team and participated in a full practice Sunday at Scottrade Center.
“(I feel) good,” Elliott said after the skate. “I’m just trying to get up to game speed and following pucks. I think when you’re off for a little bit, even for a three-day break like Christmas, some of the hardest things are just following the puck with your eyes and tracking pucks well. That’s what I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been back on the ice and today is another step forward.”
Before getting injured, Elliott had played in 14 games this season, posting a 8-4-1 record. His 1.82 goals-against average ranked first in the league while his .931 save-percentage ranked fourth.
“You never know how you’re going to feel confidence-wise,” Elliott said Sunday about returning. “But just being within yourself, feeling good about the saves you’re making, your save selection, following pucks, controlling rebounds. It’s all the little things. If you feel comfortable doing that in practice, you’re definitely ready to go in a game.”
“(Tonight) is a game that Brian has to get into to get back into some type of playing rhythm,” Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said after Tuesday’s optional morning skate.
Elliott’s return leaves the Blues with three goaltenders. Jake Allen started the majority of the games in Elliott’s absence and Martin Brodeur recorded his 125th career shutout (and first with the Blues) in Monday’s 3-0 win vs. Colorado.
For the time being, it appears the Blues will carry three goalies on the roster. All three skated on Tuesday morning, and Hitchcock said Brodeur will start in one of the next two games.
Allen will back up tonight.
400 FOR TJ
Tonight’s game will be No. 400 for Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who will become the 19th forward in team history to reach the milestone with the Blues. Bernie Federko leads the Blues all-time list with 927 games played.
In his 399 games, Oshie has 96 goals and 173 assists (269 points).
The Predators had a 3-0 lead against the Blackhawks on Monday but ended up losing 5-4 in a shootout. Nashville’s James Neal scored twice, but the Blackhawks tied the game with 1:13 left in regulation.
The Predators, who are 23-9-3 (49 points), are two points ahead of the Blues in the Central Division.
Nashville has won two of the three meetings between the teams this season.
The Blues have won six of their last seven games at Bridgestone Arena.
Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Vladimir Tarasenko’s five goals against the Predators are tied for a League best. Minnesota’s Zach Parise and Carolina’s Jeff Skinner also have five goals against Nashville in that span.
After signing his first professional contract with the Blues in April 2013, Dmitrij Jaskin met the team in Nashville, where he watched his first game as a pro. Since being recalled from the Chicago Wolves last week, the 21-year-old forward has two goals and two assists in his last five contests.