Having so far failed to duplicate his outstanding 2011-12, Brian Elliott will get another chance to end his woes at the start of the St. Louis Blues' longest trip this season.
Expected to play for the first time in almost three weeks, the goaltender will try to snap a personal five-game skid Sunday while helping St. Louis extend its road point streak and recent dominance of the Dallas Stars.
After an undistinguished start to his NHL career, Elliott shined last season with a league-best 1.56 goals-against average and 23 wins in 38 appearances. He also helped lead the Blues to their first Central Division title since 1999-2000 and their first playoff series victory in a decade.
Elliott is 3-5-1 with a 3.57 GAA this season and 0-4-1 with a 4.67 GAA since the beginning of February. He's sat the past eight games as Jake Allen and Jaroslav Halak have taken turns in net.
Coach Ken Hitchcock is set to give Elliott his first start since Feb. 11, in the first of his team's five straight road contests.
"In fairness to Brian, I think we'd like to start him on the road and see how he goes," Hitchcock said
The Blues (11-7-2) are probably looking forward to this trip as they're 3-0-1 in their last four away from home and 6-2-1 on the season. By contrast, they're 5-5-1 at home but went 2-1-0 during their recent three-game stay and rallied from an early two-goal deficit to down Edmonton 4-2 on Friday.
"This was important. We needed to get this game. We couldn't afford to lose this game," Hitchcock said.
St. Louis might not have Andy McDonald (knee), Alex Steen (upper body) and Vladimir Tarasenko (concussion) for this trip. All three are on injured reserve with McDonald and Steen having both suffered their injuries in Tuesday's practice.
Without those players, the Blues will try to earn a fifth straight win over the Stars (10-9-2), who are 1-3-0 in their last four home games.
Dallas lost to Edmonton 5-1 on Thursday in goaltender Kari Lehtonen's return from a groin injury. Lehtonen, who was 7-2-1 with a 2.12 GAA before his five-game absence, stopped 33 shots.
Dallas has given up 14 goals over its last three games but earned a combined three points in the previous two.
"It certainly wasn't the way I wanted to come back and play," Lehtonen said. "It was good to play, but the result was awful. I wasn't able to make too many of those key saves I need to make for us to win these games."
Lehtonen is 7-2-0 in 11 career appearances against the Blues with a 1.64 GAA, his best against any team he's faced at least two times. He did not start in a 4-3 home loss to St. Louis on Jan. 26 after suffering a mild injury in practice but played the final 7:41 after Cristopher Nilstorp had to leave with a groin injury.
David Perron had two goals and an assist in the second period, the Blues' second in as many visits to Dallas. Perron has three goals and four assists in his last four games against the Stars.
Dallas is expected to have Jamie Benn available for this game. Benn, one of four Stars tied for the team lead with six goals, was ejected for cross-checking Ryan Jones Thursday but will likely only get fined for the incident.
The Associated Press News Service
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