ST. LOUIS — Brent Burns is expected to be back in the lineup tonight after missing the past seven games with a leg injury, but he will skate at forward, not his usual spot on defense.

Burns practiced Tuesday morning as a right wing on the third line with Scott Gomez and James Sheppard and that is where he'll start against the St. Louis Blues. It's a position he played with the Houston Aeros in the AHL during the 2004-05 season when Todd McLellan was his coach in the Minnesota Wild organization.

"There was a time in his career where he was an in-between guy," McLellan said. "We'll tap into that a little bit. We'll see where it goes and what can come out of it. He's still a tremendous defenseman with a tremendous amount of skill back there, but we're trying to play to what our needs are right now and maybe he can help us."

McLellan said Burns likely would also get some ice time on defense, primarily on the power play.

The Sharks have struggled to score this season, reaching three goals in regulation and overtime only twice in the last 17 games — both of them losses.

Burns played down the challenge of shifting positions.

"It's just going to be a matter of skating and trying to shoot the puck and use my body to protect the puck," he said. "We'll see."

Mostly, he said he was just excited to be playing again. He missed the first 10 games of the season with an unspecified injury that may have been related to off-season hernia surgery before suffering a separate injury Feb. 23 in Dallas. He was held without a point in the six games he did see action.

"Just to get back is good and help in any way I can," he said.