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At the Rink: Blues at Islanders

by David Satriano

NEW YORK -- Goaltender Brian Elliott will make his first start since Nov. 17 when the St. Louis Blues visit the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Friday (7:30 p.m., ET; TVA Sports 2, FS-MW, MSG+).

Elliott made eight saves in relief of Jake Allen in a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. He's 4-2-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage this season.

"Whether you're playing once every week or once every 10 days, you have to find your own rhythm," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after an optional morning skate. "It's not ideal for Brian, but he's got a great attitude and is a good goalie. Just that we've had one guy that's been white hot and we ran it hard until it looked like Jake was running out of steam, so we'll give him a rest."

Allen had started the past six games for the Blues (15-7-3).

"[Elliott's] played great the whole year, really, and I think he's someone who we are really pulling for to get a win for him because I don't think we've really played our best in front of him lately," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said.

St. Louis will also mix up its forward lines with Paul Stastny skating on the top line with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko, and Scott Gomez and Dmitrij Jaskin re-entering the lineup.

"It's that time of the year where we've had predictability throughout the lineup especially up front, so we're just going to try and switch things up a little bit and see which other line combinations might work," Shattenkirk said.

The Islanders (14-8-4), who come off a 2-1 shootout win Wednesday against the rival New York Rangers, are 4-0-1 in their past five games and 9-2-1 against the Western Conference this season.

"We played a lot of Western Conference teams early," Islanders forward Matt Martin said. "For whatever reason, we've had success this year. Hopefully that continues tonight."

The Islanders defeated the Blues 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 24.

"They have four lines, they have an identity, they play hard," Hitchcock said of the Islanders. "Our game against them, we are adding three of four more players from that game. I like that for us. They were better in the first half of the game and we were better in the second half of the game. Two teams for me that match up well against each other."

Martin praised the Blues organization for the way they play and continue to be Stanley Cup contenders every season.

"They're a very good team. They have been one of the top teams in the League over the past 4-5 years and it's another good test for us coming off a very emotional game against the Rangers," Martin said. "It's important for us to not have a letdown and come out here and be physical, be disciplined in our game and our structure, and if we do that we'll be okay."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jori Lehtera - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Scott Gomez - Robby Fabbri - Dmitrij Jaskin

Alexander Steen - David Backes - Troy Brouwer

Steve Ott - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Robert Bortuzzo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder)

Scratched: Joel Edmundson, Magnus Paajarvi, Scottie Upshall


Brock Nelson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Travis Hamonic

Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

Injured: Jean-Francois Berube (lower body), Eric Boulton (lower body)

Scratched: Steve Bernier, Brian Strait

Status report: The Blues will have several lineup changes besides in goal. Hitchcock said he wanted to get new players into the lineup, meaning Gomez, Jaskin and Bortuzzo will be in, although it's unclear who will be scratched. "We need better play from more people," Hitchcock said. "We need to include more people and give them that opportunity. By spreading out the wealth a little bit, it allows us to include more people. For us to continue to get to another level, we can't continue to rely on the same two or three players and expect to win a majority of games." … Capuano said he would use the same skaters, with the only change being Greiss in net.

Who's hot: Tavares (11 points), Okposo (10 points) and Nelson (nine points) have combined for 30 points in the past 11 games. … Parayko is tied for sixth in rookie scoring (five goals, 13 points).

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