ST. LOUIS — In a shortened season with heightened importance on every game, St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak said he wanted to make sure he was fully healthy before returning.
After missing seven games with a groin injury, Halak returned Wednesday and played well in a 1-0 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
He was the starter again Saturday at home against Columbus.
"I felt great out there, it was kind of a weird game," said Halak, who stopped 19 of 20 shots against Colorado in his first action since Feb. 1. "The first half there was maybe three shots and after that they started shooting. But overall I think I felt great and hopefully I'm done with the injuries."
Halak was expected to start Feb. 11 at home vs. Los Angeles, but tweaked his groin during warmups and Brian Elliott started instead.
"I felt great the days before, even in the (morning) skate," Halak said. "In the pregame warmup I started feeling my groin a little bit, so I just didn't want to make it any worse and then be out for two months. That's pretty much the whole season. You always wonder if it's going to come back, but as of now it feels great. I'm sure if I do the right things I should be fine."
Halak actually felt well enough to play last weekend and backed up rookie Jake Allen during the rookie's third start last Sunday in Vancouver.
"I was ready on Sunday, but Jake was hot and I'm sure Hitch wanted to ride the hot goalie," Halak said with a nod to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "(Jake) gave us a chance and played some great games for us."
*After Saturday's game against Columbus, the Blues are off until playing host to the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
* The Columbus Blue Jackets suite at Scottrade Center resembles the Blues' box from last season since it included new Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen and director of hockey operations John Davidson, who was the Blues' president from 2006 until last season before leaving to take a front-office position in Columbus. Davidson's first major hire was to bring Kekalainen in as GM earlier this month. Kekalainen was the Blues' former scouting director and assistant general manager who left St. Louis to run Jokerit, a pro team in his native Finland.