ST. LOUIS – Regulation. Overtime. Shootout. The St. Louis Blues have weathered through the first two games of a very young 2023-24 season in similar fashion.
The first time around, in Thursday’s season opener, the Blues lost 2-1 to the Dallas Stars on the road via the shootout. Just two days later, returning to the Enterprise Center for the season’s home opener, the Blues flipped the script.
Behind stout goaltending from Jordan Binnington and a smooth shootout goal from Robert Thomas, St. Louis prevailed 2-1 over the Seattle Kraken.
“It’s nice to be on the other side of it,” said Blues forward Brandon Saad.
With Saturday’s victory, the Blues have now won their last four home openers. More than 18,000 gathered for the home opener festivities, enjoying traditions like a pregame celebration at Union Station and whole-team introductions just before puck drop.
“It was crazy. It was awesome,” said defenseman Colton Parayko, one of few Blues around for each of those last four home opener wins. “Good crowd. The fans always bring it. Obviously, we’re lucky in St. Louis to have passionate sports fans. It’s fun to play in front of that.”
Not many pucks found the back of the net. Just two that counted in regulation, one from Seattle that was quickly waved off due to goaltender interference and Thomas’ shootout winner.
After a scoreless first period, former Blues forward Jaden Schwartz didn’t waste any time and scored the game’s first tally in the opening minute of the second period. Jordan Kyrou answered around seven minutes later on a dish from his close pal Thomas.
Jordan Binnington stole the show with his second consecutive performance of 30-plus saves. He had a tall task once again with Seattle’s backup Joey Daccord stopping 24-of-25 chances before the shootout.
“He was unbelievable,” said Blues forward Jordan Kyrou. “He made some really big saves for us, stopped a lot of 2-on-1’s. Huge saves during the shootout. He was excellent.”
“Incredible,” said Parayko of Binnington. “Big saves, big moments. Unreal in the shootout, penalty kill, 5-on-5, just overall. Kept us in the game the whole game, and it was incredible.”
“He was unbelievable,” said Saad. That’s what you expect out of him. We know his capabilities. He’s been huge for us the first two games, and it’s nice [for him] to get the dub.”
Head coach Craig Berube credits Binnington’s early-season for simplifying the game.
“Well, he’s making saves,” said Berube. That’s what he’s supposed to do. … What I liked, even in the first period, we were a little bit on our heels, and [Seattle] got some shots, but we were really good in front of our net in not allowing second and third opportunities.”
As Berube hinted, the Blues are still trying to build more consistency on both sides of the puck. St. Louis only registered four shots on goal through the first period and were outshot, 20-13, after two periods. The Blues oftentimes trailed in the checking department and faceoff game and also ended up blocking 17 Kraken shot attempts.
“We were sleeping a little bit, but we recovered in the third. I thought the third was our best period,” said Berube.
The Blues power play is also 0-for-7 through its first two contests.
“We got to find a way to score a few more goals,” said Berube. “We’re just not clean right now with our shooting, power play included. We’re going to work on that, try to tighten it up a little bit and get a little cleaner with things.”
The Blues improve to 1-0-1 on the season and will have plenty of time to make adjustments before their next game. They have a four-day break before their next matchup at home Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Leading up to that, the Blues will closely monitor forward Pavel Buchnevich, who departed Saturday’s game early with an upper-body injury, per Berube. Not much more is known on his condition at the moment.