Hutton-led Blues shut out Jets
ST. LOUIS — If Carter Hutton had any thoughts that he would be able to ease himself back into the St. Louis Blues’ lineup on Saturday night, they disappeared pretty quickly.
In his first start since Dec. 1 after recovering from a foot injury that put him on injured reserve, Hutton made a career-high 48 saves in leading the Blues to a 2-0 win over the Winnipeg jets.
“That’s my game, a couple weeks off and play,” Hutton said.
The team’s backup goalie posted his first shutout of the season and ninth of his career by stopping 15 shots in the first period, 21 shots in the second and 12 in the third.
“Coming to the game, I was a little more nervous, excited, kind of mixed emotions,” Hutton said. “I thought I settled in right away, the first couple of shots, seeing it well. They put a lot of shots on the net, and for me it kind of gets me into the game.
“You kind of know what you are getting against them. They’re a skilled team and try to compete. Sometimes when you get a lot of shots, you get in a rhythm, and I thought that’s what happened to me tonight.”
Hutton’s previous career high in saves was 38, which he reached four times. According to the Blues, it was the most saves by a goalie in a shutout for the team since at least 1987.
The Blues said Hutton is now 21-3-9 with three shutouts when facing 30 or more shots in a game.
“That team is going to find a way to get some chances,” St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said of the Jets. “They’ve got a lot of skill, a lot of firepower.
“Any time we gave up something, Hutton was there. He was sharp right from the start. He was excited to get back in the net. If he doesn’t give us that performance, we don’t get the win.”
A power-play goal by Vladimir Tarasenko put the Blues in front 9:16 into the first period. Tarasenko knocked in a rebound of a shot by Alexander Steen for his 15th goal of the season but only his third in his past 12 games.
Hutton protected the 1-0 lead until Vince Dunn also scored on a power play, off an assist from Tarasenko, with 2:26 left in the third period.
The Blues had not scored on the power play in their previous four games, and they had just two power plays in their previous six games.
The Blues also were able to kill off four power plays by the Jets, who fell to 1-4-1 in their past six games and 0-4-2 in their past six road games.
“The best penalty killer sometimes is the goalie, and that was the case tonight,” Winnipeg winger Blake Wheeler said.
The Jets had won six consecutive games against the Blues, including sweeping the five-game season series between the teams last season.
“You lose games here and you’re always looking to the things you don’t like,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said, “but there were an awful lot of things offensively that we were getting sharp fast and couldn’t find the handle on a bunch of stuff laying in front of the net.
“(Hutton) made some real good saves as well, but we liked the territorial play that we had certainly through the first two. But I liked big chunks of our game.”
Winnipeg goalie Steve Mason stopped 28 shots in his first start since Nov. 25. He had been sidelined due to a concussion.
“I felt good from start to finish, felt solid and in control, and that was what I was hoping for going into it,” Mason said. “Sometimes their goaltender puts on a show, and he played well tonight.”
NOTES: The Blues expect D Alex Pietrangelo (foot) to come off injured reserve and play when they take on the Jets again on Sunday night in Winnipeg. ... C Kyle Brodziak missed his first game of the year for the Blues because of an undisclosed injury. He is not expected to play Sunday night either. ... RW Chris Thorburn played his first game against the Jets franchise, for whom he played for 10 seasons, including when the franchise was in Atlanta. ... The Sunday night game starts a four-game Canada trip for the Blues leading up to the Christmas break.