ST. LOUIS -- Goalie Jake Allen will make his second straight start for the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Allen started Game 4 in place of Brian Elliott, who started the first 17 games of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and made 31 saves in a 6-3 win to even the best-of-7 series 2-2.
"I'm comfortable with either guy, but I woke up this morning, talked to the coaches again and decided to go with Jake," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Sunday.
The Blues were looking for a boost after being shut out in Games 2 and 3 to fall behind 2-1 in the series and turned to Allen, who split games with Elliott during the regular season.
"You need a good goalie, and we had a really good goalie playing, but we were relying on the good goalie all the time," Hitchcock said of Elliott, who is 9-8 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in the playoffs. "We weren't playing for [Elliott]. We were relying on him, and there's a big difference. We needed to play harder for a goalie. It didn't matter if it was [Elliott] or Jake or whatever. [Elliott] was standing on his head and we were giving up too many quality scoring chances, too many easy chances, too many odd-man rushes and we were getting comfortable thinking, in my opinion, that the goalie could stop everything.
Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Allen makes a nice pad save "We just needed to compete a lot harder for whoever was in goal, and that was why I made the change. It had nothing to do with Brian and his play. He's been unbelievable since the start of playoffs, but we needed, in my opinion, to jolt ourselves into playing a lot harder for whoever was in the net."
Allen and Elliott have been close friends and the competition doesn't seem to faze either one. Allen received a vote of confidence from Elliott, who has been down this road before.
"I've said it a million times. It's a scenario we are very fortunate to have, personally as well as the team," said Allen, who is 1-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in three games. "It's no fun, any goalie can tell you, when you have a partner that you don't get along with or have a rivalry with or something like that. We are pretty fortunate to have two guys who are very similar on and off the ice, who just get it.
"... I've been sort of letting him do his thing the first three series. [Hitchcock] told me to go get him. It's my chance now. Just tried to make the most of it [Saturday] night. I don't think [Elliott] needs to say much. We both understand. We are both pretty similar in that aspect. We know we have each other's backs."
Allen carried a shutout into the third period Saturday. But with the Blues leading 4-0, play began to open up a bit and the Sharks were able to score three goals.
Video: STL@SJS, Gm4: Allen denies Donskoi on the doorstep
The players understood the goalie change was more a reflection of their play.
"I think it was more on us, the players, just a wake-up call that something needed to be changed," Blues center Paul Stastny said. "It didn't matter who was playing in net for us. I've said it all year; I think when one guy is playing or the other guy, we don't change our game. I think we have confidence in both, we trust them both. They are similar in a lot of ways, maybe a few differences, but I think both guys are comfortable in net and we don't change our game, which is important if we have either [Elliott] or [Allen] there."
"This had nothing to do with performance. This was not performance-based. This was, 'Hey, we need to play harder for our goalie. It doesn't matter who it is.'"