Jordan Binnington could be replaced by Jake Allen as the St. Louis Blues goalie for Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, FS-MW).
Blues coach Craig Berube was noncommittal Saturday when asked if he had decided on a starter.
“No. I’ll decide later on,” Berube said.
The No. 4 seed Blues, the defending Stanley Cup champions, lost Games 1 and 2 to the No. 5 seed Canucks in the best-of-7 series. Binnington allowed nine goals on 47 shots, including four goals on 25 shots in Game 2, a 4-3 loss in overtime.
Binnington is 0-4-0 this postseason and has allowed 17 goals on 123 shots (.861 save percentage), including 15 on 85 shots (.824) in his past three starts. He had 16 wins, a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in the playoffs last season.
“With Binnington, I mean, he stops a lot of those pucks, but at the same time, like I said, we’re giving breakaways up too, so I think it goes hand-in-hand with our team and ‘Binner,'” Berube said. “We’re giving up too much defensively.”
Allen made 37 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Sunday.
“I think they work together a lot and have a lot of the same tendencies,” Blues forward Zach Sanford said of Binnington and Allen. “We have a lot of confidence in both of them, so whoever’s in net, it’s on us to battle in front of them and give them the best chance to make the saves that they can.”
Games 3 and 4 of the series will take place in Edmonton, the Western hub city, on back-to-back days, and Berube said he hasn’t decided if each goalie would make one start.
“I’m going just on [Game 3]. I’m not going to worry about after that game until it’s over, what’s going to happen,” he said. “We have back-to-back games coming up, we’ll make a decision (on Game 4) after that game.”
The two biggest issues for the Blues against the Canucks have been special teams and stopping center Bo Horvat.
The Canucks are 5-for-9 on the power play, with Horvat scoring one in Game 1. Horvat scored a shorthanded goal in Game 2 by blowing past two Blues forwards on a highlight-reel, end-to-end rush before scoring the winner on a breakaway at 5:55 of overtime.
It was his fourth goal of the series and NHL-leading sixth of the postseason.
“Don’t give him breakaways,” Berube said after the game Friday. “He walked two of our people 1-on-1 for a breakaway and tonight [in overtime] it’s kind of a chuck-puck play and we’ve got to recognize he got behind us. They’re breakaways. You’ve got to keep him in front of you. We can’t let him beat us 1-on-1. You’ve got to defend that. That’s it. Simple.”
The frustrating part for the Blues is they said they feel they’ve been the better team for more minutes in this series. Most have been at 5-on-5, but simple mistakes like not defending Horvat when he’s rushing the puck or not getting the puck out of the zone at the right time have cost them.
“I feel like tonight was probably the best game we’ve played … since we’ve been in Edmonton,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said after Game 2. “Sometimes you’ve just got to keep playing and eventually things turn. Is it frustrating? Yeah, sure, but we don’t really care what people think outside our locker room. We had a lot of noise last year and look at what we did. It’s a new year, obviously. We don’t want to keep going back to last year, but the core of this group went through that together and we know how to bounce back from these things.”
The past two times a defending Stanley Cup champion lost the first two games in the first round it came back to win the series in six games, each time against the Blues (Chicago Blackhawks, 2014; Los Angeles Kings, 2013).
“What matters is how we play and what we believe in this room, and the way we played in this game was exactly the way we need to play for the most part,” St. Louis forward David Perron said. “We gave them a couple breaks. If we put 40 shots on net and the pressure we did tonight I’m confident that we can win the next couple of games.”
Regardless if it’s Binnington or Allen in goal.
“We win a game and we’re right back in it,” Berube said.
NHL.com staff writer David Satriano contributed to this report