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Round 1

Paul Stastny could return for Blues in Game 5 against Wild

Center practices on first line, has not played in series because of foot injury

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny might play against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 3-1.

Stastny skated on the top line with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko at practice Friday and worked on the top power-play unit.

Stastny has skated regularly since April 15, and Friday was his fourth practice. He hasn't played since injuring his foot when he was hit by a shot by Tarasenko against the Colorado Avalanche on March 21.

Blues coach Mike Yeo didn't want to divulge any potential lineup changes but was encouraged by what he saw.

"I thought he looked good, another good day," Yeo said. "I haven't had a chance to chat with him, but obviously we'll get together with him and determine where we go from here.

"We're not going to talk about our lineup, but obviously it was a good day for him. He's been progressing well and this was a big step to get him into a full practice, a competitive practice, so that was a good sign."

Video: ANA@STL: Stastny cuts across slot, finishes five-hole

Trying to get up to pace during the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been as big a challenge for Stastny as the healing process.

"To me, it's more catching up to the speed and thinking at a high rate," he said. "When we have the team practices like we had two days ago was good, and then [Friday] and then we'll go from there. But I never really want to put a date on when I return. I think for me, like I've told the guys, it's always been day by day. When I feel confident out there with myself, my abilities to help the team out any way I can, I will [play]."

The Blues have a second chance to close the series after the Wild stayed alive with a 2-0 win in Game 4 on Wednesday. St. Louis could go with a more veteran lineup; center Jori Lehtera, who hasn't played since Game 1, took line rushes with Vladimir Sobotka and Magnus Paajarvi. If Stastny and Lehtera play Saturday, rookie forwards Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford could be scratched.

"We'll see what happens tomorrow," Yeo said. "Getting a player back is always nice. It helps to stabilize things, it gives us a little bit more options. But at the same time it's not like getting a player back is just the answer and going to make things better for us. I think in a lot of ways we've lost players and it's sharpened our focus; guys have understood that they need to bear down and they need to do their jobs and do the little things and we need to make sure we continue to have that mindset. If we add a player like [Stastny], obviously then you become a better team."

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