After a crushing and controversial loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final series on Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues desperately need a strong bounce back performance in Game 4 on Friday.
They got it.
Ivan Barbashev scored just 35 seconds into the game to give the Blues an early lead, then a Tyler Bozak power play goal just a few minutes later proved to be the game-winner. After that the Blues mostly shut the San Jose Sharks’ offense down and held off a furious late push for a 2-1 win to even the series at two games apiece as it shifts back to San Jose on Sunday afternoon.
It was a mostly rock-solid defensive performance by the Blues to limit the Sharks’ chances for much of the game, and when they did managed to get one through rookie goalie Jordan Binnington was nearly flawless in net. He looked calm, cool, composed and made some difficult saves look mostly effortless for much of the night.
The only goal he allowed was a Tomas Hertl power play goal with just under 14 minutes to play in regulation.
Following that goal the Sharks started to pour on the pressure a little in the final minutes, but Binnington was up to the challenge of shutting them down.
He finished the night with 29 saves on 30 shots and won his 10th game of the postseason, continuing what has been an outstanding out-of-nowhere rookie performance.
While Binnington was great when he was challenged, the Blues’ penalty kill also deserves a lot of credit for a perfect penalty kill mid-way through the third period.
Just three minutes after Hertl’s goal, Barbashev was sent off for tripping and left the door open for another Sharks comeback. The Blues not only kept their power play off the board, they did not even allow them to get a shot on goal.
Game 5 of Blues-Sharks is Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.