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Improving goaltenders square off when Kraken visit Blues

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington came into this season looking to reestablish himself after a difficult 2022-23 season.

He got off to a good start by stopping 33 of 34 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss at Dallas on Thursday. Binnington will try to build on that when the Blues welcome the Seattle Kraken to their home opener Saturday.

“I think it’s got to be a positive mindset and take a lot of good things out of tonight,” Binnington said Thursday. “We played a good game. We had a couple good chances. It’s good energy in here. We’ve got to take the positives and move forward into Saturday.”

Last season, Binnington finished 27-27-6 with a 3.31 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage. Thursday was a positive step as he stole the Blues a point with his standout effort.

Binnington stopped Jason Robertson twice in overtime and denied Miro Heiskanen on a breakaway.

“Overtime, it’s just compete out there,” Binnington said. “Play free and compete out there is the mindset. It’s a 2-on-1 scenario, shoot or pass, kind of a desperation play there.”

Blues coach Craig Berube was satisfied with his team’s opening defensive effort, which featured the team’s new coverage scheme in its own zone.

“They got shots, they’re going to get shots,” Berube said. “But I thought for the most part we did a good job of keeping it on the outside and protecting that slot area. Getting in there on rebounds and not letting second or third opportunities happen.”

On the other hand, Blues forwards failed to get on the board in the season opener. The team’s only goal was scored by second-year defenseman Tyler Tucker stepping up into the high slot.

The Kraken opened their season with two road losses, 4-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights and 3-0 to the Nashville Predators. While their offense has yet to get going, goaltender Philipp Grubauer (0-2-0, 2.55 GAA, .918 save percentage) has played well.

Grubauer struggled much of last season while posting an .895 save percentage in the regular season. Then he improved to a .903 save percentage while winning seven postseason games.

“He has been solid both nights here,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s given us good opportunities and has played very well. He’s been sharp. He’s seeing the puck well. I’ve really liked his competitive level. He played a good hockey game tonight.”

Hakstol is looking for this team to generate more offense after it got stymied in Nashville. The Kraken put just 23 shots on goal at Nashville.

“I wouldn’t say ‘chaotic’ is the word, but on the offensive side, a few too many missed nets,” Hakstol said.

“The puck isn’t going our way right now,” forward Yanni Gourde said. “We’ve just got to slow down a little bit, keep it simple. … We’re kind of going too quick and out of our structure.”

Seattle forward Brandon Tanev is questionable for this game. He didn’t play in Nashville after suffering an undisclosed injury Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

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