Blues return home to battle Blue Jackets

( - The St. Louis Blues' return home is expected to feature a familiar face in the lineup as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk makes his return on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Shattenkirk has been out of action since suffering an abdominal injury on Feb. 1. He underwent surgery a few days later and has missed the past 25 games, but the 26-year-old former All-Star practiced on Friday and is set to return.

"I've done what I've got to do rehab-wise," said Shattenkirk on Friday. "It's time to jump back into it."

Shattenkirk will likely see limited minutes Saturday. He is expected to play on the third defensive pairing with Barret Jackman and has eight goals with 32 assists in 49 games this season.

His return to the blue line comes on the heels of a 3-1-2 road trip, with St. Louis avoiding a fourth loss in a row with Tuesday's 3-2 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Steen had the winner just 35 seconds into the bonus frame as he deflected a cross-ice pass from defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

Robert Bortuzzo and Marcel Goc scored in the second period for the Blues and Jake Allen emerged victorious with a 24-save effort.

"Jake played great," Bortuzzo said of his goaltender. "It was a good win for us after a long road trip."

The Blues sit second in the Central Division with 99 points, one behind the front-running Nashville Predators, who have played one more game than St. Louis and visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Brian Elliott is expected to get the start tonight for the Blues and is 6-1-1 with a 2.38 goals against average and .909 save percentage in eight meetings with the Blue Jackets.

That regulation loss came in a 7-1 setback at Columbus on Feb. 6, with Elliott allowing four goals on 14 shots before getting lifted in favor Allen. The backup yielded three goals on 19 shots faced.

That setback was only the Blues' fourth in their past 16 against the Blue Jackets and they have won three in a row, six of seven and 16 of the past 19 encounters in St. Louis.

Nick Foligno paced the six-goal win with a pair of tallies and an assist, Ryan Johansen tallied a short-handed goal with two assists and Curtis McElhinney made 32 saves.

The Blue Jackets are looking to end the season strong and have picked up a victory in five straight and eight of their past nine, extending that run with last night's 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Three nights after Scott Hartnell notched a hat trick in a win over the Anaheim Ducks, Cam Atkinson posted a pair of goals in the first period and capped off a three-goal effort by scoring into an empty net with 59 seconds to play.

It marked the first time that Columbus picked up back-to-back hat tricks in team history.

"I'm happy to get (the hat trick) and happy to get the win," Atkinson said.

Ryan Johansen and Kevin Connauton also tallied in a four-goal first period for the Blue Jackets, who recorded a franchise-record seventh straight road win. Sergei Bobrovsky picked up the victory with 31 saves.

Bobrovsky is 1-3-0 with a 2.51 GAA and .905 save percentage in four games against the Blues, while McElhinney is 1-5-0 with a 4.22 GAA and .879 save percentage in seven meetings (6 starts).