Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New wrinkle in crease

Hutchinson's first win adds new dimension to Jets' future in goal

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The following is a very juicy stat line any fan of the Winnipeg Jets could get used to:

Michael Hutchinson -- 2 GP; 1W-1L; .960 save percentage and a 0.98 GAA.

The 24-year-old Barrie, Ont., product -- with his mom and dad part of the MTS Centre crowd -- picked up his first NHL victory in a 2-1 shootout over the Boston Bruins, the very team that drafted him and then cast him aside last summer.

And if that isn't the very definition of 'sweet' in the sporting dictionary, it needs to be rewritten.

"Last game getting my first start was special but getting my first win against Boston and it ending it in a shootout, that made it even more special," said a beaming Hutchinson afterward.

"I really didn't have too many nerves before this game. I was just determined and relaxed out there and I just wanted to give the team a chance to win."

Hutchinson kicked out 32 of the 33 shots he faced on the night, including five from future hall of famer Jarome Igina -- including one on a breakaway chance -- before stoning Reilly Smith, Ryan Spooner and Brad Marchand in the shootout.

"Boston is one of the top teams in the league this year and to be able to play well against them goes away for your confidence knowing you can play in this league," Hutchinson said. "And when you can make saves on a guy like Jarome Iginla, it's just an added bonus."

Hutchinson did some video work with goaltending coach Wade Flaherty after Monday's 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild, focusing specifically on his depth in the net and finding pucks. He said afterward it helped him in becoming more aware of where everyone was on the ice.

Now the question is whether he'll start the regular-season finale in Calgary Friday night or if the nod will go to Ondrej Pavelec and how much another solid start, if he gets it, might push Hutchinson into the long-term goaltending picture with this franchise.

"I haven't decided no, but you want to let some of the emotion go away," said Paul Maurice when asked if Hutchinson would get the nod against the Flames. "We'll go back and talk and see how he's feeling. If you walked in right now he'd say, 'Why don't we just put all the equipment on again and go play another game.' He's just wired right now.

"But we want to put him in a position to have success. At the same time, if he feels good he'll be in the net (Friday) night. He's earned that right. Back-to-backs are a different beast and we'll want to see him in that, too."

 

HARDWARE NIGHT: The Jets announced the winners of their year-end awards prior to the game. Honoured this year were:

-- Three Stars Award: Blake Wheeler.

-- Community Service Award: Mark Stuart.

-- Dan Snyder Memorial Award, presented to the player who 'embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed': Bryan Little.

Snyder was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers who died tragically in 2003.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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

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