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Blues' Lehtera possible for Game 5 vs. Wild

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues would like to be the first team in their Western Conference First Round series with the Minnesota Wild to sustain momentum built from a victory in the previous game.

The Blues and Wild, who will play a pivotal Game 5 of their best-of-7 series Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports, FS-N, FS-MW), have alternated victories through the first four games.

The Blues won 6-1 in Game 4 to reclaim home-ice advantage and hope to take control of the series with a victory at Scottrade Center on Friday. But they know it won't be easy.

And there's a chance the Blues will have to do it without center Jori Lehtera, who did not participate in the morning skate because of a lower-body injury sustained midway through the third period of Game 4 after being hit with a shot by teammate Jay Bouwmeester.

"He took the shot; everybody saw it," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Lehtera, who has two assists in the series. "We felt it was best to have him stay off the ice. We're thinking that he's 50/50 to play but leaning more towards playing than not playing right now. We'll see how it goes.

At the morning skate Marcel Goc, a healthy scratch in Game 4, was between Dmitrij Jaskin and Patrik Berglund. The top two lines featured David Backes between Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie, and Paul Stastny centering Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.

"Going back [to familiarity], we're very familiar with playing these lines together," Hitchcock said. "[Stastny] has played with these guys a lot so there's not a big drop-off. We're going to miss [Lehtera] on power play; that's going to be a little bit of an adjustment. But it's a big hole if he's not in. If we would have played yesterday he would have not played. But he's looking pretty good right now. We're assuming that he's going to play."

No matter what, Berglund said the Blues can adjust accordingly.

"We're just going to try and go out and build on what we did last game," said Berglund, who has two goals and two assists in the series. "There's always going to be ups and downs with people, whatever, but we're just going to focus on the first 20 [minutes], the next 20 and the 20 after that.

"We'll see what happens. I can't say much at all now, but you've just got to adjust and move forward and that's exactly what we're doing."

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Chris Stewart

Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Nino Niederreiter

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Jordan Leopold - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Ryan Carter, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, Sean Bergenheim, Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Keith Ballard (concussion)

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund

Chris Porter - Steve Ott - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Zbynek Michalek

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Olli Jokinen, Marcel Goc, Chris Butler, Robert Bortuzzo, Ty Rattie, Niklas Lundstrom

Injured: None

Status report: If Lehtera doesn't play, Goc will take his spot in the lineup after being a healthy scratch Wednesday. He likely would play between Jaskin and Berglund, with Stastny centering Schwartz and Tarasenko. ... The Blues moved Ott to center in Game 4 and will keep him there again in Game 5. Hitchcock said Ott plays better as a center.

Who's hot: Shattenkirk has seven assists in the series, including three in Game 4. … Tarasenko has two multigoal games in the series, including two in Game 4; he had a hat trick in Game 2 and has six points in four games.

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