WINNIPEG—Michael Hutchinson has no problem rising to the challenge of playing the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Winnipeg Jets back-up goalie made a career-high 45 saves last night in a 3-1 victory over the reigning Stanley Cup champions, improving his career record against the Blackhawks to 4-0-1.
“It’s just one of those teams that sometimes you have it where things just go your way,” Hutchinson noted.
The victory halted Chicago’s four-game winning streak (6-4-0).
The Jets (6-3-1) held a 2-1 edge heading into the third period on goals by Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd—both set up by centre Bryan Little.
Mark Scheifele padded the lead at 8:04 when he took a pass from rookie Nikolaj Ehlers and beat goalie Corey Crawford on the short side.
Scheifele heaped praise on Hutchinson, who is 4-0 this season and has a .949 save percentage and 1.75 GAA backing up starter Ondrej Pavelec.
“He was awesome all night. That’s about it,” Scheifele said.
“He was unbelievable for us tonight,” added Scheifele. “He kept us in it, especially in that first period.
“He had an awesome game.”
Patrick Kane scored the game’s first goal just 1:26 in on a power play.
Crawford was riding four-straight wins and a pair of shutouts into the game. He stopped 28 shots in defeat.
The Jets got off on the wrong foot quickly when defenceman Toby Enstrom took a hooking penalty at just 18 seconds of the first period.
Kane then took a cross-ice pass from centre Artemi Panarin and fired a low shot past Hutchinson.
Kane said they had chances to score more and credited Hutchinson with some big saves, but added his team has to find the back of the net more often.
Their two previous games each were 1-0 victories.
“At this point in time, we can do things a little bit different to make it tougher on their goalie,” Kane noted.
“Try to get to the net, stay at the net, get shots through, get rebounds and try to bang in goals that way,” he remarked.
“Get some dirty goals because it seems all the pretty plays are not really happening for us.
“We can do a better job at trying to get some ugly ones,” Kane stressed.
Wheeler tied the game with his fifth goal of the season after Little won the face-off, sent the puck back to him, and he delivered a low shot from the top of the circle that went under Crawford’s stretched-out left leg at 8:12 of the first period.
With hometown product Jonathan Toews in the box for holding, the Jets peppered shots at Crawford until Ladd flipped in a Little rebound to go ahead 2-1 at 5:09 of the second.
Toews said the team effort is there most of the time.
“But, unfortunately, the times we let up are ones that ended up hurting us,” he noted.
“Just tighten up our game and be more consistent and stay with it,” Toews reasoned.
“Can’t get frustrated.”
It was the final game of Winnipeg’s season-long, six-game homestand (3-2-1)
The Jets head out for a four-game road trip, starting tomorrow in Columbus.
Chicago travels to Minnesota for a game tomorrow.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Edmonton nipped Montreal 4-3, Dallas edged Vancouver 4-3 (OT), Carolina shaded the N.Y. Islanders 3-2 (OT), New Jersey beat Philadelphia 4-1, Pittsburgh downed Buffalo 4-3, Colorado upended Tampa Bay 2-1, and St. Louis doubled Anaheim 2-1.