He was outstanding the final three months of the regular season and carried that into the playoffs.
The same goes for the Dallas Stars and their Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop. The 32-year-old veteran has been the team’s rock while leading the league in goals against average.
But in Game 4, the rookie lost his cool and the veteran stayed poise as the Stars evened the series at 2-2 with a 4-2 win Wednesday night. Game 5 is at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo.
“I thought they lost a little bit of their emotional control but they played well in the third period and regrouped well,” Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. “They’re a good hockey team.”
In the final minutes of the second period, tempers began to flare for St. Louis. Forward David Perron slashed Bishop behind the net. Moments later, Binnington was assessed two minor penalties for punching Jamie Benn and slashing Bishop as they skated off the ice for intermission. Everyone, including Binnington, downplayed the penalties.
“Stuff happens. I don’t really remember,” Binnington said. “It’s playoff hockey and [Benn] is an effective guy and we just have to handle him.”
Blues coach Craig Berube was unmoved by the escalating emotions, specifically from his goalie. The Stars were the more desperate team, he said, “and we didn’t match that desperation in the first two periods.”
“I’m not sure exactly what all happened and how it all escalated, but it’s playoffs,” he said “Both teams are heated. It’s emotional and things happened. [Binnington] is competitive. I don’t know what Jamie Benn is doing skating down there and getting in Binnington’s face. He is just reacting a little bit to it. He is a competitor.”
If the Blues’ plan was to rattle Bishop, it backfired, Montgomery said.
“I think their game plan was to get Ben Bishop off his game,” Montgomery said. “I think it was Binnington who got off his game a little bit.”
But Montgomery doesn’t think the emotions will carry over to Game 5. Or, more to his point, the overall emotions of a tied series going into Game 5 doesn’t need any additional emotional fireworks.
“I think next game we start fresh. I don’t think there is carryover from one game to another,” he said. “I don’t think it really exists. We start the first period and the team that starts asserting their will first will be the team that takes advantage of the first period anyway.”