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Blues' Elliott starts against Coyotes

Goalie was scheduled to play before Allen sustained injury Sunday

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

COYOTES (35-36-7) at BLUES (47-23-9)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, FS-MW, NHL.TV

ST. LOUIS -- With a game in hand Monday against the Arizona Coyotes, the St. Louis Blues will attempt to pull into a first-place tie with the Dallas Stars atop the Central Division.

The Blues will have to do so without captain David Backes and goalie Jake Allen, both of whom will miss the remainder of the regular-season with lower-body injuries, the team announced Monday.

Both players will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the regular season.
 
Allen was injured late in the first period in the 5-1 win Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche. He finished the period, but was replaced by Anders Nilsson for the remainder of the game. Backes had a goal and assist Sunday.

Left wing Robby Fabbri (lower body) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) skated Monday and could play against the Coyotes. Fabbri has missed two games, and Bouweester has missed the past five. 

The Blues have the chance to pull even in points (105) with the Stars, however, Dallas holds the tiebreaker with more regulation plus overtime wins (46-42).

"You work all year and you've got a chance for first place, you want to keep going," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That's the goal, and then after we finish against Washington (on Saturday), you turn the page and wherever you start, you start. I think it's all about momentum and playing well."

The Blues, who have won six of seven, also have a chance to distance themselves from the third-place Chicago Blackhawks. A win would put St. Louis six points ahead of the Blackhawks, who have a game in hand.

"We know what's in front of us, we know what's behind us," St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "The biggest thing is worry about ourselves. We know if we play the way we can, we're going to put ourselves in a good position. We want to make sure we're going full speed here going into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]."

The Coyotes finish their season with four road games. Arizona and the Calgary Flames have the second-fewest road victories (13) among Western Conference teams. Only the Edmonton Oilers (12) have fewer.

The Coyotes will finish their season having played six teams that will be in this season's playoffs.

"It's great for our young players," coach Dave Tippett said. "You're going to play against good teams that have something to play for still and it's going to be a great test for us. ... Everybody knows the situation we're in, but we have a lot of players in there that have a lot to play for." 

Tippett said he was planning on splitting his goalies for the remainder of the season but Mike Smith starts Monday after a 31-save shutout victory Saturday against the Washington Capitals.

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Alex Tanguay - Antoine Vermette - Anthony Duclair

Tobias Rieder - Laurent Dauphin - Jiri Sekac

Max Domi - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan

Jordan Martinook - Boyd Gordon - Kyle Chipchura

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy

Kevin Connauton - Zbynek Michalek

Klas Dahlbeck - Alex Grant 

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Injured: Martin Hanzal (upper body), Anders Lindback (achillies), Eric Selleck (upper body), Michael Stone (knee), Joe Vitale (head)

Scratched: Nicklas Grossmann, Sergei Plotnikov, Viktor Tikhonov

BLUES

Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo

Kevin Shattenkirk - Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson - Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott

Anders Nilsson

Injured: David Backes (lower body), Jake Allen (lower body), Robby Fabbri (lower body), Jay Bouwmeester (upper body), Steve Ott (hamstrings)

Scratched: Petteri Lindbohm

Status report: Grossmann left the team Monday morning to be with his wife, who is expected to deliver the couple's child at any time. Tippett said Hanzal is day-to-day. ... Nilsson will back up Elliott the rest of the regular season. If Fabbri and Bouwmeester play, Paajarvi or Jaskin and Bortuzzo are likely to be scratched.

Who's hot: Duclair has six points the past six games, and Domi four assists the past three games. ... Stastny has 17 points the past 12 games, including 13 assists; Tarasenko has 15 points the past 14 games (seven goals, eight assists) and Brouwer has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) the past 12 games.

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