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Blues look to stave off elimination against Wild

by Louie Korac /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Since the Western Conference First Round series between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild has gone back and forth, with each team winning alternating games, the Blues feel there's no reason why things should change on Sunday.

Game 6 [3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA, SN] has the Wild leading the best-of-7 series 3-2 with the chance to close the Central Division champions out on home ice.

The Blues said they doesn't see why the series can't and shouldn't be extended to Game 7 at Scottrade Center.

"We've got a lot of optimism," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We're very capable of winning on the road and when we've played our best hockey we've been pretty good. We're looking at [Sunday] afternoon as a do-or-die and we'll take it from there."

The team that has won the previous game has had all sorts of trouble sustaining the momentum for two games in a row.

"That's the positive attitude that you have to have going in there," Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz said. "We want to bring this back on Wednesday, so we're going to hopefully bring that momentum we had in there last game, last time we were in that building and hopefully bring the same result."

The last time the Blues played at Xcel Energy Center, they came away with a 6-1 victory in Game 4.

This is the third consecutive season the Blues have gone on the road in Game 6 in an elimination game. In 2013, they lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings; last season, they lost 5-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks. St. Louis has lost its past eight elimination games and has not won one since Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round against the San Jose Sharks on April 23, 2000. They were down 3-1 in the series before winning Games 5 and 6, and then lost Game 7 at home.

"We're not looking at it that way," Blues left wing Alexander Steen said. "We've got to go into [Minnesota], win a game, and bring the series back to St. Louis."

Here are the projected lineups:


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

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


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)

Status report: With no morning skate Sunday, it won't be known until game time if Lehtera (lower-body injury) will play Sunday. He was hit with a puck off a shot from Bouwmeester in Game 4 and did not play in Game 5. If Lehtera doesn't play, Goc could be inserted into the lineup, or Jokinen. Goc played in Game 5 after being a healthy scratch in Game 4.

Who's hot: Tarasenko has six of the Blues' 13 goals in the series, which leads the playoffs, and has 10 goals in his past 11 playoff games.

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