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Blues' Hitchcock undecided on Game 7 goalie

St. Louis coach to 'sleep on' starter after Elliott's early exit

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott had been brilliant for his team all season, particularly the past three months. One would think it's inconceivable that Elliott would get pulled in a game with a chance to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff series.

But that was the case for Elliott and the Blues in a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round that tied the best-of-7 series 3-3. Game 7 is Wednesday in Dallas (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Elliott, who came in with a 2.20 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 12 games this postseason, was pulled after Jason Spezza's power-play goal with 3:11 remaining in the first period gave the Stars a 3-0 lead; he faced seven shots.

Video: DAL@STL, R6: Spezza finishes toe drag for PPG

But Blues coach Ken Hitchcock threw a bit of a curveball at his postgame press conference.

"I want to sleep on what I'm going to do," Hitchcock said regarding who will start Game 7. "I'll let you know on the game day."

It wasn't a reflection of Elliott's play that Hitchcock made the move, but more so on the reflection of the skaters in front of Elliott.

And in not playing well out of the gate, the Blues fell to 1-3 this postseason with a chance to clinch a series.

"Yeah, that's on us," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of Elliott being pulled. "It's not his fault that's for darn sure. We have to play better in front of him for what he's done for us all series. He deserves better and we'll give him better."

Video: DAL@STL, Gm6: Janmark finds the corner for early lead

Jake Allen, who last played April 3 at the Colorado Avalanche, came on and stopped all seven shots he faced. Allen didn't see much work because the Blues spent the rest of the game dominating.

"I don't know what [Hitchcock's] decision is but I'm sure Brian's going to be ready to go on Wednesday night," Shattenkirk said. "I don't see why he wouldn't be in net."

Hitchcock was asked about if he had to say something to Elliott after the first period.

"No, I mean, the guy has carried us," Hitchcock said. "You're doing something to help the team. This isn't a reflection on Brian. This is something to help the team. He's carried us and he's been doing this thing for two months now. The guy has had a hell of a March and a hell of an April and a hell of a May. That's the way you can say it."

Video: DAL@STL, Gm6: Fiddler nets goal on his 36th birthday

Stars forward Mattias Janmark beat Elliott from the left circle on a perfectly-placed wrist shot top corner glove side on the first goal. Shattenkirk was beat at the net on Vernon Fiddler's redirection for the second goal and Spezza scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal after a series of unfortunate bounces for the Blues that found Spezza alone in the slot.

"He's the ultimate pro," Allen said of Elliott. "He'll definitely be ready. He's been the best player on our team the whole playoffs and he'll be ready to go again. ... [Elliott] has been our rock the whole playoffs so far and [we] sort of gave up too many quality chances at the start of the game. You know he'll bounce back for the next game."

But if Allen happens to get the start, he's not sure how he'd react.

"I have no idea," Allen said. "[Elliott's] been our guy all playoffs long. He's been our best player. We'll see how it goes, but no matter what the scenario is, he'll shake it off and move on."

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