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Blues' Lehtera skates, aiming to play in Game 6

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are hopeful center Jori Lehtera will be available to play in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Lehtera, who was hit with puck by teammate Jay Bouwmeester during a Game 4 victory, did not play in Game 5, which the Blues lost 4-1.

St. Louis trails the best-of-7 series 3-2 with Game 6 at Scottrade Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

The Blues held a light optional skate Saturday. Lehtera, who centered a line with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko in Game 4, participated on his own beforehand.

"He skated full today," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Lehtera, who has two assists in four games. "He skated before everybody else. … We'll see [about Game 6]. He had a good day today."

It was obvious the Blues missed Lehtera on Friday. Paul Stastny moved up to center Schwartz and Tarasenko but it left a void for third-line wings Patrik Berglund and Dmitrij Jaskin, who have had solid chemistry with Stastny for the majority of the season.

"He's a big part of our team," Schwartz said of Lehtera. "He does a lot of little things right, very reliable in all three zones.

"Like I said, he's a big part of our hockey club, so hopefully we can get him back in the lineup next game and kind of help us in that depth area."

The Blues have 13 goals in the series, six of them by Tarasenko. The Wild have 13 goals in the series from 10 scorers.

"Generate more 5-on-5," said left wing Alexander Steen, who has one goal and three assists. "We've had our fair share of chances, I thought. Myself, I had two and didn't bury [them in Game 5] and obviously they get one on the other end a few minutes later. So, that's playoffs, those pucks have to get in."

Hitchcock said, "That's going to be critical for us. [Tarasenko's] not going to get the matchup on the road that he got [at home]. He's going to have a tougher matchup and it's going to be hard for him to get loose. Other guys are going to have to just contribute. Bottom line is, guys are going to have to take responsibility and ownership to help us out there.

"... It's either been feast or famine for us. We've been locked down in three of these games and got loose on two of them. It's been one thing or the other offensively. From our standpoint, when you get the chance against this goalie, you've got to bury it because you're not going to get a lot."

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