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Is goaltender Jordan Binnington suddenly the X-factor in Wild-Blues series?

He finished with 28 saves in Game 4, frustrating the Wild with his consistent play between the pipes.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues defenseman Calle Rosen (43) and goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) defend the net from Minnesota Wild defenseman Jacob Middleton (5) during the third period on Sunday in game four of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Le/ USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — For as long as he lives, Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington may never have to buy a beer in St. Louis. He backstopped the Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019, and while he has struggled at times over the past few seasons, Binnington will always be remembered for that magical playoff run.

Despite his recent struggles in the postseason, Binnington turned back the clock on Sunday afternoon at Enterprise Center, leading the Blues to a 5-2 win over the Wild.

After ceding the net to fellow goaltender Ville Husso to start the playoffs, Binnington waited his turn, and finally got the nod in what sure felt like a must-win game. He responded with 28 saves in Game 4, frustrating the Wild with his consistent play between the pipes, and leading the Blues to a very important win.

“It felt good,” Binnington said. “It was a lot of fun being out there and competing,”

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Never mind that Binnington entered the game with an 0-9 postseason record since hoisting the Stanley Cup on June 12, 2019. Never mind that he had a 4.20 goals-against average and a .875 save percentage in that span.

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As far as Blues coach Craig Berube was concerned, Binnington could be a difference maker.

“We wanted to make a switch,” Berube said. “Just change the momentum and look a little bit. I thought he was really good tonight. He played the puck exceptionally well. That’s a big thing. He looked real calm and cool in net.”

Not bad for a guy that had to wait nearly a week to play. .

Though there was some speculation in the hours leading up to the game, Binnington found he was starting before practice on Saturday afternoon.

“He’s always the same,” Berube said. “He doesn’t give me much of a reaction. He just said, ‘OK.’ That’s him. He’s a quiet guy. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion in that area. He just goes and plays.”

Maybe that’s exactly what the Blues needed after the Wild took control in the series.

“It was awesome,” said Jordan Kyrou, who had a pair of goals in the game. “Binner played unreal.”

While there are elements to Binnington’s game that make a tangible difference on the ice — his ability to play the puck stands out as it takes some pressure off of the defensemen — the fact that he has won a Stanley Cup no doubt gave the Blues some confidence.

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“These games are why we play,” Binnington said. “It was an opportunity for me tonight. We played a heck of a game, and we kept it tight. Now we just shift our focus to next game and prepare.”

It’s safe to assume the Blues will be preparing for Game 5 with Binnington as their starter.

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