Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hutton strong again in shootout loss to Capitals

Goalie continues to play well; Jaskin scores lone Blues goal

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's getting to sound like a broken record, but if the Blues continue to get the kind of goaltending they've received -- particularly from backup Carter Hutton -- they're going to contend and win a lot of hockey games.

This is the preseason, but Hutton stood tall in another outing, his fourth overall and third start.

The Blues went up against a Washington Capitals team that played the majority of their NHL players, and although they lost 2-1 in four rounds of a shootout, there were players that stood out.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton (40) makes one of his 37 saves on Monday in
a 2-1 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.

Namely Hutton.

Hutton stopped 37 shots in regulation and overtime, including 10 on Alex Ovechkin -- he also stopped Ovechkin's shootout attempt that could have won the game -- and made several other strong saves throughout the game.

"Outstanding tonight," Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said describing Hutton's play. "We knew they had a good lineup in the game and we knew they were coming out hard and he kept us in it to start and then we kind of picked it up from there, but he was our best player for sure."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has come to expect this kind of play from Hutton, who won in relief of Allen against Columbus in the first preseason game and then has gone 0-2-1 since but allowed only six goals in three starts against Dallas, Chicago and Washington.

"He was good, but we expect that," Hitchcock said. "We did our homework, he did his homework; he's a good goalie. He's very competitive, very composed back there. He's got great communication with the defensemen, he moves the puck well. He's a good goalie. He's going to help our team a lot."

There was a reason why assistant general manager Martin Brodeur and goalie coach Jim Corsi endorsed Hutton.

"The information that we got ... we've got a heck of a goalie coach and the guy that's assistant GM kind of played the game once or twice. They did their background. They did their checking. They felt like the way we play and the way he plays, he's a good fit. So far, it looks like it is."

The Blues waded through the first 10 minutes or so and were kept afloat by the play of Hutton.

But once the Blues, who were outshot 12-2 at one point in the first, got their first power play of the night, and got the game's first goal.

Dmitrij Jaskin scored from the slot on a backhand past Braden Holtby after collecting Magnus Paajarvi's first shot. Jaskin got the rebound and slid the backhand home with Ty Rattie on the doorstep just in case with 5 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the first period.

"It was a good bounce, and then the goalie, I didn't think he seen it very well," Jaskin said. "I had enough time to put it in."

It was the perfect kind of goal that Jaskin will have to be involved in, rebounds where he can utilize his big body.

"I hope so," Jaskin said when asked if those are the kinds of goals he has to score. "That's the area I like. Hopefully they just keep coming."

Protecting the lead, the Blues lost it 1:50 into the third when Washington's Paul Carey scored on a deflected puck that Zach Sill backhanded towards Hutton but got redirected over him. The play was a result of Gunnarsson and Jordan Schmaltz not being able to cleanly move the puck out of the zone when they had full control of it.

"It was more me," Gunnarsson said. "We went D-to-D, I tried to go back to him and then tried to create something defensively, but they got a stick on it and then turned back. Just a bad bounce. It took kind of a weird loop over the goalie."

Paajarvi scored the lone shootout goal for the Blues, and former Blue and friend T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky scored shootout goals for the Capitals.

Hitchcock brought some bubble players (Kenny Agostino, Samuel Blais and Ivan Barbashev) to get a good look against a formidable lineup. None distinguish themselves.

"Nobody's really stepped out," Hitchcock said. "Nobody stepped back or stepped out. With (Jaden) Schwartz's injury, somebody's going to have to do that. ... We were hoping somebody would step up a little bit. They haven't done badly, but whoever plays in that top-nine role, they're going to have to be expected to be 200-foot players, not just checking players. They're going to have to make plays with the puck because in this league, you need three lines to score, not two."

But several players did play well.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Magnus Paajarvi (56) had a shootout goal and an assist for the Blues in a
2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals Monday night at Verizon Center.

"For us, Schmaltz had a very good game," Hitchcock said. "We had a lot of defensemen that played very well (Colton Parayko led all skaters in ice time with 28:19). Looks like (Joel) Edmundson was excellent. 

"We got some good pressure on the puck from Jaskin and (David) Perron, which is a good sign. We got good activity on the puck there. Now we get back and we'll be down real close to the team here in the next 48 hours and then we get to work."

Patrik Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk, originally on the docket to play, did not make the trip. Petteri Lindbohm was here but did not play and was the extra defenseman.

The Blues and Capitals will play again Wednesday in Kansas City, which will be a "home" game for the Blues before they wrap up preseason play Saturday at Scottrade Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.

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