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Blues' Elliott starts Game 7 against Stars

St. Louis goalie gets call after being pulled in Game 6 loss

by Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent

Game 7: BLUES at STARS

Western Conference Second Round

Best-of-7 series is tied 3-3

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

DALLAS -- Goalie Brian Elliott will start Game 7 for the St. Louis Blues against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.

Elliott, who is 7-6 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, was pulled in Game 6 with 3:11 remaining in the first period after allowing three goals on seven shots.

Tweet from @StLouisBlues: Moose is in. #WeAllBleedBlue #NHL17Tarasenko pic.twitter.com/Epo0r8r6Ei

Elliott is 4-4-0 with a 2.14 GAA and .927 save percentage in his eight games against the Stars this season, including the playoffs, so Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has no reservations about starting him in Game 7.

"Brian showed up at the rink yesterday, saw pucks, which surprised everybody," Hitchcock said. "He wanted to go on the ice. I think he's earned the right to go at it. He's given us a chance to get to Game 7 again. [I] couldn't think of a better opportunity for him or for us, really a no-brainer, but I wanted to talk to him and make sure he was feeling good about himself."

Elliott will oppose goalie Kari Lehtonen, who was first off the ice at the morning skate and will start his 10th game of the playoffs.

Stars captain Jamie Benn, whose 15 points are tied with San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns for the postseason scoring lead, did not participate in an optional morning skate but is good to go for Game 7.

"It's as simple as optional, and everyone went except for him," coach Lindy Ruff said of Benn. "That's it."

Stars forward Patrick Eaves will compete in the sixth Game 7 of his NHL career. He is 3-2 in those games and excited about the latest opportunity to play in such a high-stakes environment.

"Yeah, it's fun, it's why you play and you're thankful for these opportunities to play in the Game 7s," Eaves said. 

Blues forward Troy Brouwer will extend his NHL record by skating in a Game 7 for an eighth consecutive playoff series, dating to the 2011 conference quarterfinals with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. 

"It's just getting to be normal," Brouwer said. "There's so much parity in the league nowadays that the majority of series are going to go longer rather than shorter like in previous years. It's something you deal with, get comfortable being in situations and having to prepare for Game 7s."

Hitchcock could re-insert defenseman Joel Edmundson back into the lineup. Edmundson, a healthy scratch in Game 6, could share the Blues second pair with Kevin Shattenkirk, which would make Robert Bortuzzo, who played in Game 6, a healthy scratch.

"I want people in the lineup who can add to the group, add the energy to the group," Hitchcock said. "I'm looking for people that I think can [add something]. I know how difficult this game is going to go. I know this is going to be a very difficult game and it's going to be played with a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity, more than probably even our players realize, and I want people who are not going to spit the bit when that happens."

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUES

Jaden Schwartz - Alex Steen - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Patrik Berglund - Jori Lehtera - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Steve Ott

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: None

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Butler, Peter Harrold, Dmitrij Jaskin, Petteri Lindbohm, Anders Nilsson, Magnus Paajarvi, Ty Rattie, Ryan Reaves

STARS

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Patrick Sharp

Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Ales Hemsky

Colton Sceviour - Vernon Fiddler - Patrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns

Kris Russell - Jason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Injured: Travis Moen (undisclosed), Tyler Seguin (lower body)

Scratched: Jamie Benn, Jack Campbell, Jason Dickinson, Justin Dowling, Julius Honka, Curtis McKenzie, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Brendan Ranford, Brett Ritchie

Status report: Hitchcock could also make a change to his fourth line with Ott replacing Reaves alongside Upshall and Brodziak. … Ruff is keeping his forward lines and defensive pairs identical from the Stars' 3-2 win in Game 6 at Scottrade Center on Monday.

Who's hot: Backes and Tarasenko are each averaging a point per game in this series. … Jamie Benn has a point in nine of his 12 playoff games. … Fiddler has points in his past two games. … Spezza is on a four-game point streak.

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