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Conference Final

Binnington inspires confidence in Blues for Game 2 against Sharks

St. Louis looks to even Western Final with better support for rookie goalie

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The St. Louis Blues expect nothing less than a bounce-back game from goalie Jordan Binnington.

The rookie had the worst statistical game of his NHL career in a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday. He allowed five goals on 24 shots, a .792 save percentage.

The Blues, who lost Game 1 for the first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, feel they failed their goalie and need to be better in front of him for Game 2 on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN).

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Blues series coverage]

 

"We just left him out to dry," Blues forward Pat Maroon said. "He made some really key saves at really key moments I thought. Nothing really seems to bother him, so we're not really worried about that. One goes off the skate, we gave them a 2-on-1, a 5-on-3 goal ... so I mean there's nothing you can do. I thought he made some really good saves, I thought he was really good again, but we just left him out to dry."

Binnington's ability to rebound in the playoffs - - 3-2 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in after a loss - - is a big reason why the Blues have advanced to the conference final for the second time in four seasons and why teammates feed off his unwavering attitude.

"I think he has a calm head," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He forgets about it and moves on. He's been doing that all year. He doesn't get rattled on that. It wasn't a great game for anybody. We have to move on, learn from it and make some corrections. He will do the same thing. He just moves on."

Binnington, who is 8-6 with a 2.57 GAA and .908 save percentage in the playoffs, knows how important it is to have a short memory in the postseason.

"Sure, yeah, but at the same time, you've got to be aware," Binnington said. "It was a good experience for me, first game at the Shark Tank. Obviously they came out hard, they're a highly-skilled team, so something to learn from.

"Goals are going to go in. Especially at this point in your career, you've played a decent amount of games and you've lost some games. It's one game at a time and things can change quickly. Just be as prepared as you can for what's to come and see how you handle it."

Video: Pang reacts to Blues' 6-3 loss vs. Sharks in Game 1

The Sharks are also expecting a better showing from Binnington.

"We got a few things on him. But what he has done speaks for itself, so he is good," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "I am sure he is going to bounce back. We made some good plays along the way. Guys stuck a few pucks in the net too. If we can get to him early again too hopefully we can keep scoring some goals. You've got to expect he's going to come out with a better game as well. He's been a good goalie, he's been a backbone for that team. It's a big challenge for us to stay on him."

Binnington went 24-5-1 with a League-leading 1.89 GAA and .927 save percentage in the regular season when the Blues went from last in the NHL on Jan. 3 to making the playoffs.

"It goes back to that point just preparing the same way," Binnington said. "Sometimes it's not going to go your way and you just handle it and you keep moving forward."

That attitude is one reason why the Blues feel confident going into Game 2.

"I think everyone feeds off him, the way he's handled himself since he's stepped foot in that NHL locker room," Maroon said. "It's been unbelievable. Nothing really seems to faze him. He's got that swagger, he's got the confidence and it carries into the team and how he plays and how we play."

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