Goaltender stellar for Blues in first of back-to-back games
against Winnipeg, sets franchise record for most saves in a shutout
ST. LOUIS -- As he was making save after -- at times -- acrobatic save, Blues goalie Carter Hutton just wanted to give his team a chance.
A team that had hit a small skid with two straight losses and had one goal to show for it, the Blues' margin for error was small against the high-flying Winnipeg Jets in the first of a home-and-home series between the teams.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues goalie Carter Hutton makes one of his career-best 48 saves against
the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
Hutton stood tall, he stood large, and in the end, he stood victorious. He made a career-high 48 saves for his first shutout of the season and ninth in the NHL in a 2-0 Blues victory over the Jets on Saturday before 17,964 at Scottrade Center.
Hutton, who was activated off injured reserve on Friday following a foot injury and making his first start since Dec. 1, was -- in a word -- sensational.
With the Blues (22-10-2) absorbing every blow the Jets (18-10-5) were throwing at them, particularly in the second period when Winnipeg was outshooting the Blues 21-6.
The 48 saves were most for a Blues goalie in a shutout in franchise history, eclipsing the 47 saves made by Chris Mason on Nov. 25, 2008.
All in a night's work, right?
"That's my game, a couple weeks off and play," Hutton said. "I thought we battled hard. Penalty kill was great, power play gets two huge goals. I thought there was a lot of chances. That second period, I was running out of juice there early on, then kind of settled in and then in the third, I thought we played really well. We played great, we did a great job. And that's the difference. We get a late goal and kind of seals the deal."
Hutton said he had nerves, but for those watching live or even on television, you wouldn't know it.
"It's weird. It comes in different waves," Hutton said. "Tonight, I was kind of coming into the game with a little more nerves, a little more excitement, kind of mixed emotions. I thought I settled in right away. First couple shots, I thought I was seeing it really well, tracking the puck off me, any rebounds. They put a lot of pucks to the net. [Blake] Wheeler does a good job of just shooting for rebounds in tough areas. So for me, it almost gets me in the game.
"I like to compete and battle. I thought it kind of really played to my strength early on, and then I thought as the game went on, it was almost my puck-handling took over. I thought I handled the pucks. And then we did a good job in the third as we really didn't give up a whole lot."
The Blues were outshot 48-30 in the game, but coming from a vantage point of a team that was shut out, the Jets, who will welcome the Blues at their place on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Bell MTS Place, played a solid road game. They were simply beat by the guy between the pipes.
"He was 48 saves good. He was really good," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of Hutton. "I thought our third period, we tightened up a little bit but obviously, as tight as we want to be. That team's going to find a way to get chances. They've got a lot of skill, a lot of firepower. But we gave up a little bit off the rush tonight but every time we gave up something, 'Hutts' was there."
"Yeah, it's amazing how [Hutton] did tonight, I think everyone knows that," said Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, who scored his third NHL goal. "When a guy stands on his head for the team like that, you've got to pay your dues. We didn't manage to score 5-on-5, but I think we stuck to the game plan and I think obviously you saw that the power play was doing better than it has before."
Hutton made 36 saves in the first two periods, 21 in the second when the Blues were caught on their heels and battling penalty troubles along with the Jets' multiple waves of zone time.
"We didn't control the game like we normally do," Yeo said. "It's a good hockey team over there. I thought in the defensive effort, we were very solid. We'd like to see a little more zone time, we'd like to see a little more puck possession time, because when a team like that has the puck, as well as you want to defend, they're going to get some shots, they're going to get some opportunities. I don't think we controlled the rush as well as we can, whether it's our gaps, our forwards that help as far as pushing them into our defense, but all in all still a pretty solid effort."
"I always told you guys he's a really good goalie, same as Jake [Allen], and we are really thankful for those goalies," said Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored the Blues' first goal. "We're really proud how they play right now."
Tarasenko and Dunn scored power-play goals for St. Louis, which went 2-2-0 on a four-game homestand.
"'Hutts' was rock solid for us," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "Coming off a week away from the team and coming back and having a performance like that was awesome. That's what we need from our goalies. We're not scoring a ton of goals right now, but goalies have been good for us and that was obviously the story again tonight."
Steve Mason made 28 saves for the Jets (18-10-5). It was his first game since Nov. 25, when he was hit in the head with a puck. It was the second time Winnipeg was shut out this season.
The Jets are 0-4-2 their past six road games and have been outscored 24-10.
The Blues snapped an 0-for-12 slide on the power-play with the two goals and they needed them.
Tarasenko's 15th goal gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead at 9:16 of the first period. He followed Alexander Steen's slap shot from the right circle and got to the rebound.
"I don't remember. You guys see everything," Tarasenko said. "Just work on it every time and I hope success, like I always said, will come. We need to score more power-play goals obviously and sometimes it wins games like today."
Dunn's power-play goal at 17:34, a wrist shot from inside the blue line, gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead.
Steen set the screen and Dunn stepped into a wrister.
"I didn't really see it at the time, but obviously looking at the replay, there's no doubt that was a big part on 'Steener' there and the goalie had no chance really seeing it when he was looking over the other shoulder," Dunn said. "So yeah, a lot of credit to him on that goal."
"... I was more worried about the guy coming out on me. But you know, I think we've been turning up a lot of shots on the power play, so I think tonight we tried to get more pucks at the net and I think that's where we saw our results."
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues goalie Carter Hutton (left) stops Winnipeg's Bryan Little, making one
of 48 saves in a 2-0 victory against the Jets.
The Blues momentarily jumped over Nashville and back into first in the conference. Nashville played Saturday night in Calgary.
Now the teams get to do it all over again Sunday.
"It'll be fun," Schenn said. "It's a good hockey game. It's a fun team to play. There's chances out there, there's good goaltending. It's physical, there's hits. It's Central Division and there's a lot of good teams in our division. Back-to-back just makes it that much better."
* NOTES -- Blues right wing Sammy Blais sustained a lower-body injury in the first period. He returned for one shift in the second but immediately went off the ice.
"Lower body, tweaked something, don't think it's going to be serious," Yeo said. "Heard he may be a possibililty in the next day or so. Haven't gotten full word."
As for Alex Pietrangelo and Kyle Brodziak, who both missed Saturday's game?
"Both guys I'd say are possibilities tomorrow," Yeo said.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (undisclosed injury) will not initially join the team in Winnipeg but could meet up with the team in Western Canada.