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Blues Get Schwartz Back to Face Sharks

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

SAN JOSE - The Blues will get Jaden Schwartz back in the lineup tonight in San Jose, where his club meets the Sharks at 9:30 p.m. at SAP Center (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).

Schwartz has missed seven games with a right foot injury. He was injured blocking a shot in the third period of a 5-2 win vs. Los Angeles on Dec. 16.

“I’m really excited (to be back),” Schwartz said. “No one likes sitting out and it’s tough to watch games. I haven’t had too many hard skates, but hopefully I find it early in the game and get my feet moving. It might take a couple shifts, but I’m really excited to get into the game.”

Schwartz joined the team in practice Thursday. As far as tonight, at least for the early going, he’s just planning on keeping it simple.

“Just managing my shifts. I don’t want to get caught out there too long. I think that could affect me for the shifts after,” he said. “Keep it simple early and as the game goes on, when I get time and space, I can make plays. But right off the bat, I don’t want to do too much. Just keep it simple, keep the shifts short and try to set the tone with my feet moving and my speed.

Prior to the injury to Schwartz, the Blues had won five consecutive games. He currently ranks third on the team in points (27), while his 11 goals are second only to Vladimir Tarasenko (22).

“(We’re in) a little bit of a slump here, but hopefully I can try and contribute,” Schwartz said. “Once we get the first one, guys will get a little more confidence back.”

THE LAST MEETING

On Dec. 20 in San Jose, the Blues had a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the game thanks to second period goals from Patrik Berglund and Steve Ott, but Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the tying goal with 21 seconds left in regulation and Brent Burns scored a power-play goal with 37.5 seconds left in overtime to take a 3-2 win at SAP Center.

"We had both teams on the ropes, and our inability to check at the right time, our body position and everything has hurt us,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said after that game. “It's not closing games. It's checking. When we're checking properly, with the offense we have, we're going to beat teams.”

The Blues will need to check properly to beat the Sharks tonight. San Jose is coming off a 3-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Joe Pavelski scored twice, Logan Couture had a goal and an assist, and Vlasic had two assists.

The Sharks will without Joe Thornton, who left in the first period Wednesday with an upper-body injury. Thornton had played in 319 consecutive games.

ELLIOTT EXPECTED TO START

Brian Elliott is expected to be back between the pipes tonight. It would be his second start since returning from a lower-body injury that held him out of the lineup for 14 games.

Elliott faced 47 shots in his return Tuesday in Nashville.

"That's one way to get back into it is getting a lot of rubber," Elliott said after the game. "It's probably not the game we wanted to play, but they came at us and we knew what to expect. Personally, I felt pretty good. I felt pretty comfortable in net and trusting of everything in my game. It's tough we didn't get the result we wanted tonight."

BLUE NOTES

Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 4-3 loss to Anaheim. He had 11 shots on goal to set a new career high. He also won seven of 10 face-offs and had three blocked shots.

Steve Ott has nine goals and 13 assists (22 points) in 48 career games against the Sharks. He scored his first goal as a member of the Blues in the last meeting on Dec. 20.

To make room for Schwartz's return, the Blues have assigned forward Colin Fraser to the Chicago Wolves. Fraser made his Blues debut Friday in Anaheim.

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