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This article was published 2/11/2014 (2466 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CHICAGO — He did it in arguably the National Hockey League’s loudest building and against a lineup featuring the likes of Toews and Hossa, Kane and Sharp.
So years from now, when Michael Hutchinson spins yarns about his first career NHL shutout — a 1-0 Winnipeg Jets win over the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night at the United Center — he’ll have quite the story to tell.
"This is definitely something really special and something I’m going to remember for the rest of my playing career," said Hutchinson. "Just being in Chicago makes it pretty special with the team that they have. It’s something that I’m definitely going to look back on."
Hutchinson kept the puck from the win, the second consecutive shutout for the Jets after Ondrej Pavelec stoned the New York Rangers on Saturday. He did it with more of the game we saw last April in his NHL debut — good rebound control and square to shooters — and looked nothing like the kid who struggled in his first start earlier this year against Los Angeles.
He had a couple of Hawks’ chances clang off posts behind him, but also benefited from the solid work of the men in front of him. The Jets were credited with an incredible 30 blocked shots, with 14 players stepping in front of at least one (Mark Stuart, as per usual, led with five).
"The last three minutes seem to go by pretty slow," said Hutchinson, who faced 13 shots in the third, 33 overall. "It was just one of those things I was trying not to think about and just trying to focus on the puck and where their players were on the ice. When they got into our zone we had some huge blocked shots in the end. It was nice to see the guys lay out down in front of you and hold out for the shutout.
"I thought we played great. In the second period we gave up some chances, but those were on the power play. Overall, they didn’t get too many second-chance opportunities. We were doing a great job tying up sticks, blocking shots and tying up rebounds. For my standpoint, I thought the game went pretty easy and I didn’t have to make too many big saves from good scoring chances. A lot were just thrown on the net."
Hutchinson’s first shutout game in just his fifth National Hockey League start. The result also dramatically affected his numbers: he came into the game with a 4.50 goals-against average and a save percentage of .864 and exited at 1.80 and .945.
The Jets, meanwhile, have now posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since October 2006.
"We’ve given up one goal in our last eight or nine periods now, 10 going back to the third period on the Island," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "Good goaltending and lots of sacrifice in front of it.
"It was a big start for our organization and for Michael Hutchinson. We have full belief that he’s going to play well and play well for us for a long time. His first crack I yank him and gets here in Chicago... so good for him. Now it will shorten the frequency before his next start. He’s got lots of confidence and it takes some pressure off Pav, which is something we need to do here in terms of the sheer numbers (of starts) he gets."