St. Louis rules out Halak for Game 4

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The good news? Jaroslav Halak returned to St. Louis practice Tuesday for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in Game 2.

The bad news? The Blues still can’t use him.

That’s according to head coach Ken Hitchcock, who on Wednesday said Halak is progressing but won’t be made available for Thursday’s Game 4 in San Jose.

Brian Elliott, who made 26 saves in St. Louis’ Game 3 victory, will make his second straight start while AHL Peoria call-up Jake Allen remains the backup.

“Like anybody else, until you’re a player, you’re out,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch. “That’s kind of what we’re thinking. [Halak’s] definitely not going to be available to us on Thursday.”

With Halak out, it’ll be interesting to see how Elliott responds to another start in goal. He was brilliant in relief on Saturday (stopping all 17 shots faced, splitting the shutout) and for 56:58 of Monday’s game, he was equally good (stopping 25 of 26).

The catch? The final 3:02. Elliott allowed two goals on San Jose’s final three shots, nearly blowing a 4-1 lead in the process.

That’s left the Blues goalie feeling antsy heading into Thursday’s affair.

“It makes me want to play that much harder,” he said. “If you have a team where you want them, you have to bury them. You always want to in the regular season, but that’s what you have to do now.

“If we learned a lesson, it will help us in the long run.”