Confident Elliott leads Blues vs Blackhawks
(AP) -- Brian Elliott is playing with a different kind of confidence now for the St. Louis Blues.
Elliott is expected to try to become the first Blues goalie to post four straight shutouts Sunday, but it probably won't be easy with a visit by a league-leading Chicago Blackhawks team that has won four straight.
St. Louis (23-15-2) rested Elliott in favor of Jake Allen in Friday's 4-1 loss at Columbus that snapped a six-game win streak.
Elliott, who was struggling in the early part of the season, should be back as he attempts to become the first goalie to post four straight shutouts since Phoenix's Brian Boucher had five in a row between Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004.
"Don't wanna jinx him," captain David Backes told NHL.com. "We want to knock on wood after every interview, but he's been a battler for us, lays it on the line and has worked his butt off to get back into the shape he's in, as far as having that confidence, and knowing that every time he's in the net, we're going to have a great performance."
Elliott saved 23 shots in Thursday's 2-0 victory at Minnesota to extend his shutout streak to 189:29. He has stopped 118 of the last 122 shots he has faced and won five straight decisions.
His last six-game win streak was from Nov. 4-27, 2011. Elliott is 2-3-1 with a 2.45 goals-against average in six career starts against the Blackhawks.
The Blues still need a strong finish as they have 48 points in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.
Chicago (31-5-4), meanwhile, has an NHL-best 66 as it tries to hold off Anaheim for the West's No. 1 seed. The Blackhawks clinched the Central Division title with Friday's 3-2 shootout win over Detroit.
"It means a lot but I think we want to capture first place," goaltender Corey Crawford said. "It's been game by game the whole year and we're not going to change it."
Crawford has started all three meetings with St. Louis this season, going 2-0-1 with a 2.07 GAA. Ray Emery, however, is 15-1-0 with consecutive shutouts on the road heading into this contest.
Jonathan Toews has a team-high five points for Chicago in the season series. No Blues skater has more than two.
The Blackhawks are looking for improvement from their power play, which is 0 for 12 over the last seven games. That unit faces a St. Louis penalty kill among the NHL leaders at 84.4 percent.
Chicago's penalty kill ranks higher at 85.5 percent, allowing one goal in opponents' last 23 chances.
"Let's keep pushing forward and look for some more consistency from our game and we got a tough game going into St. Louis as well," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose next win will be his 600th, viewed Friday's loss as a bit of a wakeup call for his club, which has now totaled five goals over its last four games.
"We've lived on this fine line for a while," he said. "When you're scoring one goal in a game, you're not going into those hard areas. They scored three goals by going in there."