Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hutton backstops shorthanded Blues to 3-2 victory over Rangers

Netminder's debut a success after St. Louis 
loses three to injury, played third period shorthanded

ST. LOUIS -- Playing without two forwards and a defenseman in the third period, the Blues turned to their new goalie and asked him to win a game.

And true to form in his Blues debut, Carter Hutton came up with critical saves, including a total of 15 of them in the third period and 33 for the game to preserve the Blues' 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers on Saturday before 19,197 at Scottrade Center.

Hutton, who by his own admission gave up a bad second goal to Mika Zibanejad, more than made up for it in the third period with four clutch saves to preserve the lead. 

But it was evident the game would fall squarely on Hutton's shoulders.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton makes one of his 33 saves in a successful
debut during a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

"You never think like personally like that. You're just in the moment; you're just like playing, you're just battling," Hutton said. "You know how much the guys and their blood, sweat and tears go into it, right? At the same point, you're just in it, you're just battling. It's just a constant mindset of keep competing and do what I do best and battle. Tonight that was the difference."

Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and assist for St. Louis, which was held without a shot in the third period, the fourth time in franchise history they were held without a shot in a period, with the most recent being Feb. 16, 2008 in the third period against the Nashville Predators.

Alex Pietrangelo scored for St. Louis, which won its third in a row to start a season for the fourth time in its history (1969-70, 1993-94, 2013-14).

The Blues played the third period without centers Kyle Brodziak (who played in his 700th NHL game) and Jori Lehtera and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, each departed with upper-body injuries and left St. Louis with 10 forwards and five defensemen.  

"The goalie was outstanding in the third period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He won us the game, which was great. We needed it. Whether it was three in four nights or the injuries or whatever that depleted us, we needed our goalie in the third period and he came through for us."

Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and assist for the Rangers, who defeated the New York Islanders 5-3 at Madison Square Garden in their season opener Thursday. Henrik Lundqvist made 15 saves.

The Rangers felt they threw everything they had at Hutton but could not get one past the Blues goalie when they needed to most.

"Let's find a way to win. 'Hutts' came in," Pietrangelo said. "We knew he was going to make some big saves. I’m really proud of this group of guys. That’s a tough way to start the season. We found a way to win. That’s just type of character we want."

The final 20 minutes had to feel like an eternity for the Blues, who played with virtually three lines. Stastny (23:30) and Alexander Steen (23:31).

"To me it wasn’t bad," Stastny said. "I think having playing with three lines, five 'D' ... the big adjustment I think for us was guys not used to playing that many minutes. We all played more minutes than normal. But guys that normally play 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 minutes playing 18-19, it’s completely different for them. It’s almost like that one shift you try to have good puck possession, other than you almost have to play unified and play smart. At times we did, at times we didn’t. 'Hutts' played unbelievable for us, made those big saves and totally earned first star of the night." 

Tarasenko scored his third goal to put St. Louis ahead 1-0 at 1:13 after Colton Parayko blocked a J.T. Miller shot, getting the Blues out in transition. 

The Rangers tied it on Kreider's goal at 5:25 after he collected a loose puck in the slot and beat Hutton with a wrist shot to the short side. 

The Rangers were outshooting the Blues 8-1, but the Blues finished the first with the final 10 shots, and Stastny got his 100th point with St. Louis when he scored on a rebound of a shot from Robby Fabbri in the slot with 2:28 left. 

Pietrangelo scored on the power play with a one-timer from the slot at 2:28 of the second to make it 3-1. Stastny had little time to make up his mind when he got the puck in the corner to start a power play but quickly found Pietrangelo in the slot to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.

But Zibanejad scored 30 seconds later to drain the momentum.

It was a shot Hutton wanted back after allowing Zibanejad to slip a backhand from a tough angle inside the near post.

"That was definitely not a good goal obviously, right? But that's hockey; it happens sometimes," Hutton said. "You can take one and roll it into two or three and make it a bad night. But for me at that point, what's done is done and I try and move on. Obviously being able to approach that style was the difference for me tonight."

And it was a difference because Hutton made what Hitchcock would call "10-bell" saves; he Hutton came up with four dandy ones. One on Miller with 17:51 remaining, a second one on Kreider with 17:15 left and a third on Miller while shorthanded with 12:41 left to preserve a 3-2 Blues lead.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward Scottie Upshall (10) tumbles over Rangers defenseman
Ryan McDonagh during action Saturday at Scottrade Center.

"It's always tough when you're shorthanded, right," Hutton said. "Watching their PK, you knew they like to get up ice. I kind of had an awareness that he was there and most of the time, you're kind of loaded to that back pass. I was able to get across and tracked it well. I was able to keep it out and put it into a good area too after that. Sometimes those hit you and end up going in or sitting there for the next rebound and stuff like that and held onto it. That was important.

"Sometimes it goes quick when you're getting peppered. It was one of those ones where we knew they had speed and they were trying to open it up. We lose a couple guys there, and three games in four nights was showing there a bit. We stuck with it and were able to ... early on, it was a big power play goal and it proved to be the difference tonight."

And opening the season with three wins in as many games in four nights, the Blues are going to enjoy a day off on Sunday.

"'Sunday Funday,'" Stastny said with a grin.

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