Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Binnington steals Blues two points to end trip, winning 3-2 in a shootout against Jets

Goalie makes 39 saves, many high variety saves, then stops all four shootout 
attempts to help team go 2-1-1 on trip; Kyrou, Buchnevich each get goal, assist

Jordan Kyrou's seen it before. Pavel Buchnevich hasn't.

For the latter, he better get used to it, because it won't be the last time Buchnevich will see teammate Jordan Binnington steal two points for his team like he did Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington was locked in Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout
win against the Winnipeg Jets, making 39 saves and four shootout attempts.

Jets fans have seen it before, painfully, back in 2019 to be precise when the Blues eliminated the Jets in the first round of the playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup, and they were given a stark reminder again at Canada Life Centre when Binnington made 39 saves through regulation and overtime, then was a perfect 4-for-4 in the shootout when the Blues won, 3-2, to close out a four-game road trip 2-1-1, 8-2-1 overall.

To say Binnington was sensational would be understating it. The only goals allowed among the 41 Jets shots in the game, in which Binnington made 39 saves, was a Neal Pionk second-period point shot through a maze of traffic that caromed off Marco Scandella and in, and a Kyle Connor shot from the low slot with Binnington down and out in the third period.

Otherwise, Binnington was terrific. 

"Definitely would have lost the game, that's for sure," said Kyrou, whose third-period goal at 11:54 tied the game 2-2. "'Binner's making unbelievable saves all game and then same thing in overtime, especially shootout. He really won that for us.

"We all know what 'Binner's capable of and he always brings it. It's definitely awesome to have him back there. It's a relief."

Binnington's save percentage for the game was .951, and it raised his season save percentage to an impressive .928.

Binnington, who is 6-2-1 for the season with a 2.44 goals-against average, was especially sharp in the final two periods when he faced 34 shots and made a handful or so 10-bell saves. 

"The second and the third period, he made some big saves, I'll tell you that," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "There were a couple of those for sure. In the second and third, he came up big for us. He won us a game tonight."

To put it in perspective, according to naturalstattrick.com, the Jets had 19 high danger shots in the game to the Blues' six. Binnington faced 14 of them and stopped 13, good for a .929 high-danger save percentage. The Jets had an expected goals of 3.79 in the game to the Blues. 1.16, so Binnington, at the very least, saved the Blues two goals in the game, and they would have returned home with just three points in four games. Instead, they take five of eight and had his teammates oohing and aahing on the bench.

"'Binner makes those unbelievable saves and you just look at a teammate like, 'Wow, what a save! Way to keep us in the game!,'" Kyrou said.

As for Buchnevich, who played in front of New York Rangers young phenom goalie Igor Shesterkin last season, his impression of Binnington is on par.

"I'm impressed. He's so good," Buchnevich, who had a goal and an assist, said of Binnington. "Makes again tons of saves. I don't know how many shots, like 45, or whatever. He still make us better. If not for him, maybe the score end up like way worse."

This performance had to rank right up there against the Boston Bruins, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final when Binnington was especially stellar in the first period and finished with 32 saves in a 4-1 win.

That had much more meaning, of course, but this one bags two points that could make the difference in so many different aspects at the end of the season.

"It's close," Berube said. "I don't ever think he's not locked in to be honest with you. He's always an active goalie in my opinion playing pucks and things like that. 
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Jordan Binnington (50) sprawls to make a save in a recent game against the
Chicago Blackhawks.

"For me tonight, he made effort saves, is what I would call it. He out-competed a shooter on a lot of the plays, just battling. He was excellent."

The Blues, outplayed for much of the game, would get the best of it in the overtime, outshooting the Jets 10-1, but when called upon in the shootout, Binnington would glove Connor's backhand attempt, close the five-hole on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele and in the end, Blake Wheeler, after Ryan O'Reilly scored the lone shootout goal for the Blues in the fourth round.

And with the Blues playing a bit shorthanded due to COVID-19 protocol, missing defensemen Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola for a second straight game, without captain Ryan O'Reilly and forward Brandon Saad each for four games, backup goalie Ville Husso and forward Kyle Clifford as well, Binnington's last line of defense has been and will continue to be imperative until this unit gets back to normal again.

"It was definitely up there for sure," Kyrou said of Binnington's best performances. "There was a couple times where he was on his stomach or he was on his back, he would fling his arm up there, got his stick on it or something and he'd make unbelievable saves. Same thing in the shootout, stopped all four of them."

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