By Patrick Kelly
When Jordan Binnington walks into a building, he makes sure that he makes an impression before walking out. He did just that on Friday night in front of the NHL’s best at the NHL Skills Competition. Binnington participated in the NHL Save Streak competition against all seven other goalies in attendance and the NHL made sure to save the best for last.
Toronto Maple Leaf Fredrik Anderson went third and held the lead at seven for the majority of the competition until the final two goalies of the night glided into the blue paint. First was Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andre Vasilevskiy, who had a perfect streak of nine going before Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets walked in, made one move to his backhand and fired it blocker side to make the Russian one short of perfect.
Next came the man of the hour. Binnington, wearing his NHL 20 Team of the Year golden mask as well as special equipment for All Star Weekend, was set to face a stacked Pacific Division lineup that included the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk.
One of the best moments from this competition happened when the fourth shooter, Tomas Hertl, stopped at center and pulled out a cutout of Justin Bieber’s face and started moving in on Binnington. Despite the attempted distraction, a shot of Binnington showed him barely reacting to the mask during the shot as he was zoned in, stopping Hertl after he tried a one-handed tuck in goal.
Moving to the ninth shooter it was time for Binnington to go one-on-one with the hometown kid Tkachuk. Tkachuk moved in with a burst of speed and attempted to pull the puck between his legs and go top corner but he missed just wide.
The final shooter was Draisaitl, who has 75 points on the year, one shy of his teammate McDavid. Draisaitl moved in and seemed to have Binnington beat, but with a wide-open net from a tough angle he rang it off the post making Binnington the 2020 NHL Save Streak winner. Binnington hopped up and raised his blocker, acknowledging a crowd that was so loud one of the TV cameras couldn’t stop shaking when they cut to it.
On the biggest stage of them all, Binnington once again proved he is up for any test you put in front of him. After the first night of the All-Star Weekend, Binnington proved once again that he is one of the top goalies in the NHL, and that this likely won’t be the last All-Star Game where he puts on a show.