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Conference Final

Blues sloppy in front of Binnington in Game 1 loss to Sharks

Say they 'hung him out to dry' after turnovers prove costly against San Jose

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Jordan Binnington had a stoic look on his face through his mask as he made his way to the dressing room after the final horn had sounded on the St. Louis Blues in a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Saturday.

Win or lose, the Blues rookie goalie rarely shows any emotion. That's the way he rolls.

As for his teammates, that was a different story, as every single one of them either tapped him on the pads or patted him on the head. It was their way of telling Binnington that they were sorry for playing so poorly in front of him.


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Blues series coverage]


"He was great," Blues forward Robert Thomas said. "He made a bunch of great saves. We hung him out to dry."

It was a familiar theme among the Blues. They allowed too many odd-man rushes, had too many turnovers in the neutral zone, too many situations when Binnington was left to deal with waves of oncoming Sharks on his own.

It would be easy to look at the postgame stats and come to the conclusion that St. Louis was plagued by shaky goaltending. Late in the second period, Binnington had allowed five goals on 19 shots; in the final three games of the second round against the Dallas Stars, he allowed four goals on 80 shots.

But in reality, such an assumption would be wrong. Just ask Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo.

"That was far from the issue," Pietrangelo said, rolling his eyes when asked about Binnington's play.

Break down many of the Sharks' goals and it becomes apparent he has a legitimate point.

Sharks forward Logan Couture made it 1-0 at 3:31 of the first period by converting a 2-on-1 pass from Gustav Nyquist.

Binnington: no chance.

After Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson tied it 1-1, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski put the Sharks ahead 2-1 at 11:24 by batting in his rebound at the left post on a 5-on-3 power play.

Binnington: no chance.

In the second period, Sharks forward Kevin Labanc found a gap in the defense and was allowed to skate in uncontested into the high slot before shooting through a screen at 7:41 for a 3-1 lead.

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

Following a goal by Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly, Timo Meier took a turnover from Blues defenseman Colton Parayko just inside the St. Louis blue line and blew by Jay Bouwmeester before finishing with a beautiful deke at 10:24. Meier scored his second goal of the period when he banked a shot off the skate of Blues defenseman Vince Dunn from behind the net at 17:34, making it 5-2.

Other than on perhaps Meier's first goal, Binnington had little chance on those either.

Blues coach Craig Berube agreed. Asked if he contemplated replacing Binnington with backup Jake Allen for the third period, his answer was short and to the point.

"No," he said.

Berube said much of the Blues' sloppiness came from being too spread out on the ice, a recipe conducive to turnovers. To win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he said, you need to have numbers around the puck.

The Blues didn't have that. And now they find themselves trailing the best-of-7 series heading into Game 2 at San Jose on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"[The Sharks] check well," Berube said. "They're a good team without the puck, they're good in the neutral zone. We have to do a better job in the neutral zone without the puck."

In other words, clog things up and give the Sharks less open ice to gather speed.

"They've got a ton of forwards who make a lot of great plays," Thomas said. "We fed them. We didn't get it in deep and make them work for it. When you give teams like that so many chances off the rush, they'll be able to enter the zone and make plays off them."

Binnington did not speak to reporters after the game, but the Sharks didn't need to hear him talk. They know he and the Blues will rebound in Game 2, much the way they have through the playoffs thus far.

"We got a few things on him," Pavelski said. "But what he has done speaks for itself, so he is good. 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."

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