ST. LOUIS - Brian Elliott will start in goal tonight when the Blues host the Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX).
Elliott’s last start was Dec. 27 in Dallas, where he was stellar in stopping 35 of 37 shots at American Airlines Center in a 3-0 loss.
“His last game, he was outstanding,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said after today’s morning skate, adding that tonight’s game was a scheduled start for Elliott. “We know where we want to go on a weekly basis, and I’m looking forward to see him play again. If he plays the way he did in Dallas, that’s going to give us a chance tonight.”
Historically, Elliott has been very good against the Senators, who he played 130 games with from 2007-2011. In four career games against his former club, Elliott is 2-0-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average and a .942 save-percentage.
But if the Blues are to get back on track after Saturday’s loss in Toronto, it’ll be through better minutes at even strength.
“We’ve been in perfect position the last two games going into the third period, and we’ve been the first team to crack. That’s what I look at more than anything,” Hitchcock said. “We’re the first team to give up a scoring chance when the game is on the line. To me, winning in the NHL right now is about how many good minutes can you build. That’s what we’ve done, except for the last little bit here. That’s what we’ve got to get to: don’t give up anything, and if you keep your work ethic going, you’re going to get a lot.”
The Senators will be playing in the second night of back-to-backs. Ottawa lost 3-0 to Chicago last night and has been shutout in two straight games. They’ve lost three straight, but with names like Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman in the lineup, the Blues know they’re in for a test.
“I expect it to be a good game,” defenseman Colton Parayko said. “They’re a very good hockey club over there, and they’ve got some good players that can do some damage. We expect them to come hard and obviously every night is important in this League. They’re not going to take a night off, and we’re not going to take a night off.
“I think it’s going to be a good game.”
BERGLUND’S FIRST GAME
Patrik Berglund played 13 minutes and 37 seconds in his season debut Saturday in Toronto and said the shoulder felt fine after the game.
“It got better and better I’d say,” Berglund said. “The first period was a bit of a shock, but I kind of expected that. After the game, and the next day, the body felt good.”
“I thought he was good. We were impressed,” Hitchcock said. “If that’s a building point for him, that’s a good sign. We’re starting to get healthy now, so we should expect more from ourselves, and he’s a guy that’s going to really help us.”
So, what is Berglund looking for in game two?
“To get two points. That’s the only thing I’m looking for,” Berglund said. “We’ve got to get ourselves ready to have a hell of a game tonight.”
The Blues held an optional skate today, so the projected lines for tonight’s game won’t be available until game time.
Hitchcock did say that Kyle Brodziak wouldn’t play tonight. Hitchcock said he’s been a step behind since returning from a skate cut injury recently and that the club would work with him over the next few days to get him up to speed. Scottie Upshall is expected to take his spot in the lineup.
The Blues have earned points in six straight games against the Senators (3-0-3). St. Louis hasn’t lost in regulation to Ottawa since Jan. 21, 2010, when Brian Elliott made 27 saves in the win for the Senators.
Hitchcock has 198 wins behind the Blues’ bench and is just two wins shy of becoming the club’s second 200-win coach, joining Joel Quennevhlle (307).
Senators defenseman Chris Wideman is a native St. Louisan and will be playing his first NHL game in his hometown tonight. Wideman played for the AAA Blues, spent three seasons at Chaminade and is expected to have 40 friends and family at Scottrade Center tonight.
The Blues will be helping raise money for flood relief efforts in the area at tonight's game. Fans can make a donation online, by texting BLUES to 52182 or by participating in a special silent auction outside Section 119. To learn more, visit stlouisblues.com/floodrelief.