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Caps' Hutchinson has got to stay hot

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Can St. John's IceCaps goalie Michael Hutchinson keep up the kind of goaltending he gave his team in Monday night's 49-save victory in Texas?

He might have to.

The Stars have thrown 35-plus shot at their opponents 10 times in these playoffs so far. They put 50 on goal Monday but lost 2-1 to the IceCaps, leaving the best-seven Calder Cup final tied 1-1, with Game 3 tonight in St. John's.

In Game 1 of the series, Texas needed only 23 shots on goal to cruise to a 6-3 victory but the IceCaps made things a lot tougher for the AHL's top regular-season team on Monday, blocking shots and forcing Texas more to the perimeter.

Shoot they did on Monday, but the Stars had few of the Main Street looks they did in Game 1.

"Michael was disappointed with the lack of results (Sunday)," IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said. "I had no concerns with how focused he was. It wasn't even a rebound game. Michael played a strong game (Sunday) and we left him out to dry a couple of times.

"You need that kind of goaltending this time of year. He was our best player (Monday)."

If Monday's shot tally was accurate, one could say Hutchinson played out of his mind. But the IceCaps game was about more than him, as the visitors had their own chances to get ahead by two or three goals in a contest in which they never trailed.

"It's always nice to score the first goal," Hutchinson said. "We've had some good starts in these playoffs, scoring early goals. Our team feels really confident playing with the lead.

"You never like playing from behind and that comes down to the start."

Going into Game 2, the 24-year-old from Barrie, Ont., who finished the NHL regular season with three strong games for the Winnipeg Jets, didn't sound the least bit worried the Stars had their way in Game 1.

"Overall, the goals (Sunday) were good ones where they made some plays," he said.

"At the same time, I could have made some better reads to give myself a better chance. You just have to have a short memory in back-to-back games. I knew I had better, could play better."

He and goalie coach Dusty Imoo went over some video and the IceCaps in front of him made a lot more good decisions defensively on Monday -- never mind what the shots may say.

"I feel I've been playing pretty well all playoffs. I had to make a lot of saves, but our team blocked a ton of shots," Hutchinson said. "We played great team defence tonight. That was the difference from Game 1 to Game 2, the effort in our own zone. If it goes seven games, I think we can keep it up."

Monday's win bumped Hutchison's post-season numbers to even better levels. He's now 12-6 in the playoffs with a save percentage of .943.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2014 C2

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