While the Colorado Avalanche took a 2-1 series lead over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, it was center Nazem Kadri's collision with Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington that dominated the postgame conversation.
The Blues questioned Kadri's role in Binnington's injury, which forced their starting goalie to leave Game 3 early in the first period. Kadri, meanwhile, insinuated that Binnington threw a water bottle at him during a postgame television interview.
Binnington left just 6:45 into the first period after Avalanche forward Artturi Lehkonen took a shot that Binnington blocked with his glove. Kadri and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen both crashed the net seeking a loose puck. Binnington stayed down, and the St. Louis trainer came out on the ice. The Blues goalie tried to work through the injury and stay in the game, making some movements in the crease. But at one point he reached down to clutch his left leg before leaving the ice.
St. Louis confirmed he suffered a lower-body injury. Backup Ville Husso, who started the postseason as the Blues' No. 1 netminder, entered the game and gave up four goals on 23 shots in the 5-2 defeat.
Blues coach Craig Berube questioned Kadri's role in the collision despite no penalties being called on the play.
"Look at Kadri's reputation. That's all I've got to say," he said of Kadri, who has multiple postseason suspensions, including an eight-game ban for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in the 2021 playoffs.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar defended his player.
"Listen, reputation doesn't mean anything. It's either a legal play or it's not. We've talked about this with Naz and the way he's trying to change his reputation," he said. "Their [defenseman] and Naz are both going for a loose puck sitting at the top of the crease. They're skating in there as hard as they can go, and they collide before they go in. Again, it's unfortunate. It's a legal play."
Kadri and Binnington had a previous incident this season. In October 2021, Binnington was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty for swinging his goalie stick at Kadri after a scrum between the teams.
After the incident in Game 3, Kadri was doing a postgame interview with TNT and talking about the collision. He paused for a moment and then continued, eventually telling the broadcast that Binnington may have thrown a water bottle at him.
In his postgame news conference, Kadri didn't back off that insinuation. "Yeah, I think it was Binnington. But I was a little tied up, so you'll have to ask him," Kadri said. "I think it was him. I don't know for sure."
According to The Athletic, two people confirmed it was Binnington who threw the water bottle.
Kadri defended his actions on the play.
"I just see a loose puck, really. It was just kind of sitting behind him. Their defenseman collided with me and pushed me into him. Had that not been the case, I don't think I would have hit him at all," he said.
The loss of Binnington was significant for the Blues. He had gone 4-1 in five games since replacing Husso for Game 4 of the Blues' first-round series win against the Minnesota Wild. Binnington entered the Saturday night game with the best save percentage (.948) of any goalie still competing in the postseason and had stopped 81 of 85 shots in the first two games of the series.
Husso gave up a goal to Logan O'Connor at 10:57 of the first period to tie the game 1-1. The Avalanche got second-period goals from Kadri and Lehkonen to take a 3-1 lead, but St. Louis center Ryan O'Reilly cut the lead to 3-2 at the end of the second.
"Binner's the heart and soul. Playing unbelievable. I think [his injury] took the momentum away and it took us too long to get it back," O'Reilly said. The Blues couldn't find the equalizer in the third period, and Gabriel Landeskog iced the game on a botched goalie pull from St. Louis.
Game 4 is scheduled for Monday in St. Louis.