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Blues' Elliott ready to play, understands Allen decision

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott has been through this before.

Elliott, who has put up some pretty impressive statistics in his four seasons with St. Louis, including a Blues record 21 shutouts, again has been bypassed when it comes to the starting job for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He was the backup to Jaroslav Halak to begin the 2012 postseason before Halak was injured and Elliott was thrust into the starting role. Elliott grabbed the starting job in the shortened 2013 season when Halak was injured. Last season Elliott was brushed to the backup role again after the Blues acquired Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres.

This season was supposed to be different. Elliott, 30, is the veteran, and Jake Allen, 24, is the rookie. It was Elliott's best chance to be the clear-cut No. 1 heading into the playoffs.

But Allen went 5-1-1 with a 1.14 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in his final seven starts. His impressive play down the stretch didn't go unnoticed by coach Ken Hitchcock, who made Allen the starter for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild.

So Elliott became the backup again, and as has been the case in the past, he had to swallow his pride and take the team-first mentality, which he's maintained since his arrival in St. Louis, no matter the situation.

"That hasn't changed since I started playing hockey," said Elliott, who is 5-8 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 14 playoff games with the Blues. "Sometimes you're going to have to make sacrifices for the team, and everybody in here has done that at some point in their career, this year and in the last game. Guys have sacrificed a little bit of ice here and there for matchups or whatever the coaches are seeing.

"This game comes and goes too fast to get upset about the little things. That's the coach's decision. It's nothing I can do, so I control what I can and come here every day with a smile on my face and try to do my best. I'll be ready when called upon. That's how it is right now."

Minnesota leads the best-of-7 series 1-0 following a 4-2 victory Thursday. Game 2 is Saturday at Scottrade Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

It was no secret to Elliott that Allen would be the No. 1 goalie moving forward.

"I mean, you never try to look ahead," Elliott said Friday. "You try to stay one day at a time, one game at a time. That's where you get in trouble; if you look too far down the road, you get tunnel vision. Every day you come in and you try to do your best, no matter if you're starting or not."

Hitchcock, who went with the hot hand instead of the all-star who had a solid season, said that if Allen falters, he has no problem going back to Elliott. In the meantime, Elliott will be there in support of Allen.

"He's playing good, so whatever we can do to win," Elliott said of Allen. "The ultimate goal is to win the Cup at the end of the year, so no matter who's playing, no matter who is healthy scratched in this locker room, all that matters is the one goal."

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