ST. LOUIS — Brian Elliott was a surprise starter in goal Monday night for the St. Louis Blues against the Los Angeles Kings after Jaroslav Halak reaggravated his groin injury during warmups.
Halak was listed as the starter on the lineup sheet handed out before game and took part in warmups, but Elliott started the game and allowed four goals on 23 shots in a 4-1 loss.
"It just happened so quick," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It was after the warmup....I think everybody was in a little bit of shock, but it is what it is. He had three really good days of practice and then I don't know, somewhere in the warm-up he pulled it again.
"It isn't good for us right now. We're just going to have to learn how to battle through it."
Halak (3-0) hurt his groin Feb. 1 during a 5-3 loss at Detroit. Elliott has now started the last five games, all losses.
"I didn't know until about five minutes before the game, so it's a little surprising," Elliott said. "You prepare the same way and you have a chance to go in, so it's your job to be ready."
Cole gets another chance
After cracking the lineup just once in the Blues' ' previous six games, defenseman Ian Cole made his second straight appearance Monday against the Kings.
Cole logged a season-high for ice time with nearly 24 1/2 minutes Saturday against Anaheim while paired with workhorse defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
Cole nearly collected the game-winning goal in overtime.
The goal was overturned when Blues center Patrik Berglund was called for goaltender interference, leaving Cole and his teammates a bit deflated.
"Obviously I was pumped, I thought it was good," Cole said. "I was kind of skating to the net so I didn't see the ref was waving 'no goal.'
"It's one of those things where there's not much you can do about it, right? The call's a no-goal, what are you going to do...scream at him? That's not going to change it. I'm not one of those guys that gets too fired up about that. "
Cole was more fired up about playing against the Ducks' top line and being a solid contributor.
"It was good to get back in the flow," he said. "It's almost easier to play more often, just because you do get into that flow and you keep playing and keep playing. If there is a little mistake, you're right back out the next shift.
"You just roll right over it, you recover from it and it's fine. I almost think it's harder to play 12-15 minutes where you only get a couple shifts a period."
Cole's performance got a rave review from Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who called him "Very good.. Just competitive, big, strong, smart, that's the player that we expected to have. If he continues down that path he's going to be a great add for us."
Cole was in the lineup again Monday against the Kings and couldn't stop Jeff Carter on a strong move to the net on Carter's second goal of the night.
The Blues have seven healthy defensemen after the early-season signing of veteran defenseman Wade Redden. Cole has been the odd man out on most nights, but he hasn't been feeling sorry for himself.
"You come to the rink and be a positive guy, try to give energy and try to get better," Cole said. "As much as it stinks not playing, being able to battle through that and try to get better through practice is what I want."
Former Blues head coach Davis Payne returned to Scottrade Center on Monday as an assistant coach with the Kings.
Payne was replaced 13 games into last season by Hitchcock, who guided the Blues to their first opening-round playoff win in 10 years.
Payne was 67-55-15 as a head coach with the Blues and spent the remainder of last season as a scout.