Goalie Binnington a steady rookie rock as Blues advance

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jordan Binnington still doesn’t look nervous.

Sure, the standout rookie goalie for the St. Louis Blues admitted he got a little tired late in the double-overtime win over Dallas in Game 7. But he said he is ready to keep his strong play going as St. Louis advanced the Western Conference final for the first time since 2016.

”I was pretty happy to see that puck go in, and in front of a home crowd, the atmosphere was crazy,” Binnington said. ”It was a fun experience.”

The Blues will play the San Jose Sharks, 3-2 winner over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 on Wednesday night.

The Blues are making their fourth conference finals appearance since 1970. They can thank Binnington for doing his part.

The 25-year-old Canadian was cool and composed – and maybe a bit weary – following Pat Maroon‘s winner at 5:50 of the second overtime Tuesday night. There was no overly demonstrative celebration. He calmly skated to his teammates as is if the Blues had wrapped up a ho-hum, regular-season game in October.

It’s been this way since Binnington was called up from the AHL on Jan. 5.

In the first round, Winnipeg fans tried to throw Binnington off his game by chanting, ”You look nervous.” After helping lead the Blues to a momentum-shifting win in Game 5 at Winnipeg, reporters asked him about the chant to which he simply replied, ”Did I look nervous?”

Binnington, a Calder Trophy finalist, continued his stellar play against the Stars and Ben Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist.

”Big time, big time saves, at key moments,” Blues coach Craig Berube said about Binnington. ”That’s a credit to him. When you’re sitting there and watching it all, we’re getting a lot of action at the other end, things happen and they come down and get an opportunity, he was there to make a big save for us.”

Binnington’s arrival helped turn the Blues around.

St. Louis was last in the league in points in January. Behind Binnington, the team went on a franchise-record, 11-game winning streak from January into February.

Binnington wound up 24-5-1 in the regular season and is 8-5 in the postseason, where his save percentage is a pedestrian .915 but his goals-against average is just 2.39 behind a stingy defense.

He hasn’t lost more than two games in a row all season.

”There were a couple moments where you just took a second and realized where you were,” Binnington said. ”It’s pretty special. I’m happy to be part of it and I’m happy we got the win in front of the home crowd here.”

The Blues run is historic. They are one of only seven teams to make the postseason after being last in the league in points on Jan. 3. They are the only team to win a playoff series after climbing out of that hole.

Now they are halfway to the first Stanley Cup in the franchise’s 52-year history.

”A lot of people doubted us, but I’ll tell you what, and I really do mean this, I’m really proud of this group more and more every single day,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. ”You’re around this group of guys and a lot of people say we have a close room, and we do because that’s a resilient effort from where we were in December to get to where we are now. Sometimes you’ve just got to look back and be proud of the effort. It’s been a long road, but we just keep on pushing and it’s taken everybody right now, but we’re finding a way.”

That resiliency was tested in Game 7.

Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis and was originally drafted by the Blues, threatened to steal the game and the series for Dallas. He made 52 saves, thwarting chance after chance.

Binnington was not tested nearly as much, but he stepped up in overtime, including a sprawling save on a wrap-around attempt that was dangerously close the goal line.

”They had a couple chances in overtime and I just tried to do my job and try to make the saves and give the team a chance to win,” Binnington said. ”Everyone else took care of their job and got the win, so it was good.”

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Olympic hockey on NBC: 2018 women’s gold medal game

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Hockey Week in America continues Sunday with the unforgettable Olympic women’s gold medal game in 2018.

NBC will present the women’s gold medal game at the 2018 Olympics between Team USA and Canada, won by the Americans in a 3-2 shootout in PyeongChang. With the victory, the women’s ice hockey team claimed its second ever Olympic gold medal and ended the Canadians streak of four straight gold medals.

Kenny Albert, AJ Mleczko and Pierre McGuire called the gold medal game in PyeongChang.

You can catch a replay of the 2018 women’s Olympics gold medal game Sunday on NBC at 1 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SUNDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Maple Leafs vs. Bruins (Game 7, Round 1, 2013 playoffs) – 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Golden Knights vs. Sharks (Game 7, Round 1, 2019 playoffs) – 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Kings vs. Blackhawks (Game 7, Western Conference Final, 2014 playoffs) – 12 a.m. ET on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

Capitals vs. Penguins on NBCSN: Kuznetsov’s overtime series clincher

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Hockey Week in America continues Saturday with memorable playoff performances in the Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

In 2018, the Capitals and Penguins met in Round 2 for the third straight postseason. Pittsburgh won the previous two series en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. But this time Washington would have its revenge. Evgeny Kuznetsov would score in overtime of Game 6 to help the Capitals advance as they went on to win their first championship in franchise history.

You can catch Game 6 of the 2018 Penguins vs. Capitals playoff game Saturday night on NBCSN beginning at 12:30 a.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SATURDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2018 playoffs) – 12:30 a.m. on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

Capitals vs. Penguins on NBCSN: Bonino Bonino Bonino!

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Hockey Week in America continues Saturday with memorable playoff performances in the Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

The Capitals needed a win to force Game 7 in Round 2 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Facing the Penguins yet again, the clawed back from a 3-1 third period deficit to force overtime. It was there, however, that Pittsburgh once again topped their Metro Division rivals. This time it was Nick Bonino breaking their hearts to put the Penguins on a path to the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup title.

You can catch Game 6 of the 2016 Penguins vs. Capitals playoff game Saturday on NBCSN beginning at 10 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SATURDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2016 playoffs) – 10 p.m. on NBCSN
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2018 playoffs) – 12:30 a.m. on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Crosby vs. Ovechkin on NBCSN: The dueling hat trick game

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Hockey Week in America continues Saturday with memorable playoff performances in the Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

After edging the Penguins in Game 1 of their Round 2 series in 2009, the Capitals were eager to take a 2-0 series lead. Little did we all know it would be the Crosby and Ovechkin show as the two superstars exchanged hat tricks. Ovechkin’s Capitals came out on top after he scored his second and third goals of the game in a span of 3:29 late in the third period for a 4-3 victory.

You can catch the dueling hat trick game Saturday on NBCSN beginning at 8 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SATURDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
Penguins vs. Capitals (Game 2, Round 2, 2009 playoffs) – 8 p.m. on NBCSN
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2016 playoffs) – 10 p.m. on NBCSN
• Capitals vs. Penguins (Game 6, Round 2, 2018 playoffs) – 12:30 a.m. on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.