St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has stopped 106 of 113 shots during the club’s three-game winning streak, a sterling stretch he will aim to continue Wednesday as the team visits the Chicago Blackhawks.
While he also was the Blues’ goaltender of record five times during the eight-game skid that preceded the team’s current tear, Binnington has remained steady in his preparation and mindset — and teammates notice.
“He’s always been good — right from the first game (of the season),” St. Louis forward Robert Thomas said. “Even when we weren’t helping him too much. But the last three games especially, he’s taken it to another level and that’s given us a lot of confidence in front of him.”
Thomas sparked the Blues’ most recent victory Monday, contributing a goal and assist to a 3-2 win at Colorado that closed with St. Louis frantically staving off a 6-on-3 situation over the final minute.
Moments earlier, with the Avalanche skating with merely a 5-on-3 — having not yet pulled their goalie — Binnington denied Cale Makar on a shot from the left circle that was headed for a seemingly open net.
“It’s unbelievable,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. “He’s made some incredible saves. He’s kept us in every single game this year and now we’re on the winning side of it. So it’s been a lot of fun to watch him. He’s a true competitor that just continues to build. He’s always there to help us out.”
Wednesday’s game ends a stretch in which the Blues have played five of six on the road. Chicago, meanwhile, will close an abbreviated, two-game homestand that began Monday with a 3-0 loss to Carolina.
Carolina rookie Pyotr Kochetkov made 27 saves against Chicago to record his first NHL shutout. It marked the third time the Blackhawks were blanked this season.
“It’s frustrating because I thought we played OK in the first (period), and we’re getting used to a team that pressures like that,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “We haven’t really had that lately. We have to get accustomed to that.
“We have ‘D’ playing more minutes now than maybe they’re used to playing, and they’re put under the gun even more against a good skating, strong team. I thought we weathered that storm pretty good in the first period and played OK.”
Richardson’s sentiments notwithstanding, Chicago trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes and struggled to mount an attack in falling for the seventh time in nine games.
Special teams made a difference, as the Blackhawks finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
Captain Jonathan Toews said Chicago needs to show more urgency while not getting frustrated when pucks don’t go in the net.
“You can’t force it,” Toews said. “I think we’re making good plays and getting chances, and we’re just relaxing with the puck and playing hard without it and giving each other options and things just kind of develop, … We’ve just got to stick with it. There’s a lot of good there.”
–Field Level Media