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At the Rink: Flyers at Blues

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

ST. LOUIS -- Defenseman Radko Gudas will return to the lineup Thursday when the Philadelphia Flyers play at the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, FS-MW).

Gudas missed the past three games because of suspension after an illegal hit to Ottawa Senators forward Mika Zibanejad.

"It just happened so fast," Gudas said. "I thought it was more of an accident than anything else. Obviously you don't want to see guys getting hurt. I hit him with the forearm in the chin, but something was going to happen. Obviously you don't want to make it happen, but I just have to be a little more careful. I don't think it should be anything that should change.

"I'm excited to get back in there and get the hockey feel again."

Gudas, who has one assist in 22 games, will be paired with Michael Del Zotto. Andrew MacDonald will be a healthy scratch.

"[Gudas] was playing well when he went out and he's coming back in," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "… He's an important guy on our 'D' corps. He brings an element like we all know. He's worked hard over the last few days while he's been unavailable and he's ready to go tonight.

"He's going to be comfortable going back and playing his style. If there's any small adjustments that need to be made along the way, we'll keep talking about those. Radko will go in and he'll play his game and he'll be confident doing it."

Goalie Brian Elliott will make his fifth start in the past 17 games for St. Louis. He's 0-2-1 in his past five appearances, including relieving Jake Allen twice, but has allowed five goals and has a 1.60 goals-against average and a .942 save-percentage.

"He battles his [tail] off every time he's in that net for us," Blues captain David Backes said of Elliott, who is 6-3-0 with a 2.12 GAA and .930 save percentage with three shutouts against the Flyers. "Jake does the same, but [Elliott] deserves a great performance in front of him, give him a chance, some goal support to get a big 'W' tonight and pick him up and have him be a big part of this thing. He's done all the right things, he's been a great professional while Jake's played most of the games. Now he gets a chance to play in a big game for us that's in a critical time in our season.

"He's a consummate pro that does all the right things. That's a team guy, when you're not getting what you want, per se, but you're doing the right things and not being a distraction. He's done everything of a guy in that situation. Now he's having an opportunity to play. We expect him to be great and we're going to be good in front of him. That's going to be a good team game."

Here are the projected lineups:

FLYERS

Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Brayden Schenn

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Jakub Voracek

R.J. Umberger - Scott Laughton - Ryan White

Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas

Nick Schultz - Evgeny Medvedev

Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Injured: Sam Gagner (upper body), Mark Streit (groin), Luke Schenn (foot/ankle)

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Andrew MacDonald

BLUES

Magnus Paajarvi - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen - David Backes - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Jori Lehtera - Robby Fabbri

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Petteri Lindbohm - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Steve Ott (hamstring)

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Robert Bortuzzo

Status report: With the Flyers playing back-to-back games, including Friday at the Dallas Stars, Hakstol wouldn't rule out using Neuvirth on Thursday and Friday. "We'll make the decision later tonight or tomorrow morning for tomorrow. … We're not going in with any preconceived plan. We're going to go through tonight and make a decision for tomorrow," Hakstol said. Mason was pulled from a 4-3 shootout loss Tuesday against the New York Islanders after allowing three goals on 10 shots. … Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said they may use Bortuzzo as a forward in some form if needed moving forward. Bortuzzo, a defenseman, will be scratched Thursday.

Who's hot: Tarasenko has five points (three goals, two assists) in the past five games. Steen has a goal and two assists in the past two games. … Giroux has two goals, three assists the past four games.

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