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Blues' Elliott 'fine' after hand injury

St. Louis goaltender says he's OK to start Thursday against Chicago

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott said he will be in goal Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-MW, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) after sustaining an apparent hand injury during practice Wednesday.

During a warmup drill Elliott took a shot off the inside of his blocker and immediately left the ice. But in comments given to the Blues' Twitter account, he said he felt OK.

"[I'm] totally fine," he said. "It happens every day in practice, you're always taking shots. With all the injuries, we have people get a little sensitive but I'm all good and ready to go for tomorrow."

The Blues are without goalie Jake Allen for the remainder of the regular season because of a lower-body injury. Anders Nilsson is Elliott's backup.

After practice Wednesday, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sounded a bit concerned: "... Typical of the way things are going, so hopefully it's good news."

The Blues have played significant parts of the season without left wings Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle) and Alexander Steen (upper body), centers Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Paul Stastny (broken foot), and defensemen Alex Pietrangelo (knee) and Kevin Shattenkirk (groin).

In addition to Allen, captain David Backes is out for the remainder of the regular season because of a lower-body injury.

"I think if you were going to question this team on what it's gone through, you might have done it six months ago but you can't do it now," Hitchcock said. "They've been through everything and we're still here and we'll continue to fight. There are some things that are out of your control. You can't fix people that are hurt or injured or whatever.

"We've shown beyond anybody's dreams what our fight's like because there are a lot of teams that have gone through exactly what we've gone through and they aren't playing mid-April. They're done and we're not. We're still fighting.

"We've just got to see what our health looks like next week. Get through these next two games hopefully with continued good play and get some points and put some pressure on people around us, and keep playing well like we are and see who's ready to play next week and see what we can put [out] as a roster. We've shown enough heart and character for five seasons this year to get through what we've gotten through. We'll continue to fight like crazy."

The Blues and Dallas Stars have 105 points but the Blues trail the Stars for first place in the division because they have 43 regulation/overtime wins (ROW) to the Stars' 46. The third-place Blackhawks are four points behind the Blues.

Elliott is 22-7-6 with a League-leading 2.03 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. In his past 14 games he's 11-0-1 with a 1.77 GAA and .939 save percentage.

Rookie left wing Robby Fabbri (lower body) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) practiced Wednesday and could play Thursday.

Fabbri, who has 18 goals and 19 assists in 71 games, has missed the past three games since sustaining an injury in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche on March 29.

"Waking up the next day I was happy with how I felt," Fabbri said. "Since then I've been trying to get to 100 percent and working every day to trying to get better.

"It's day-to-day right now. I'm not taking [Thursday] out of the picture. That's obviously one of the goals but we'll see. ... You don't want to come back too early and hurt yourself a little bit more. Just making sure that I'm 100 percent."

Bouwmeester has missed six games after an injury sustained March 22 against the San Jose Sharks.

"They look fine; they haven't been cleared yet," Hitchcock said of Fabbri and Bouwmeester. "We're going to talk to [head athletic trainer Ray Barile] and his staff and we'll talk to the players and see if they're cleared for [Thursday]. It's probably the fourth day in a row where they've looked good, but neither have been cleared for play right now. We'll have to wait on that. I would say we'll know by pregame skate, even before pregame skate [Thursday]."

Left wing Steve Ott has not participated in practice the past two times on the ice. Ott has not played since tearing both hamstrings against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 5.

"I think we should probably wait on Steve's situation and we'll get you something here in the next 24 hours on it," Hitchcock said. " ... It is what it is. Just batten down the hatches and get 20 guys to play, and we'll see. Chicago's got the same thing going. Both teams are pretty banged up."

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