Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hutton shines in Blues' 3-1 preseason loss to Stars

Goalie makes 21 saves, transitions puck well; Hitchcock impressed

DALLAS -- The Blues' 3-1 preseason loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday didn't bring to the forefront anyone that needed to make an impression.

But the Blues, who dropped to 2-1 on the preseason, did find out that the backup goalie they signed for starter Jake Allen is more than capable of being a solid backstop.

Carter Hutton got the start for the Blues and impressed. He allowed two goals in the two periods he played but made a number of quality saves after playing the final 20 minutes of the Blues' 7-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward Eric Nystrom (right) pursues Stars defenseman John
Klingberg during preseason action Monday in Dallas.

Hutton was aggressive with shooters, blockering away shots to corners and not leaving big rebounds, and his penchant for keeping the play going smoothly for the defensemen is something the Blues can take advantage of. 

"You never want to leave down 2-1, but all things being the way they are, I thought (the Stars) came out pretty strong in the first period," Hutton said. "It was a lot of work obviously. They had some guys in the lineup, had some good chances. For me, it's the same thing, just try to build towards each day kind of as a building block, work towards the regular season but for the most part, I felt pretty good. Some things to build on, some things to feel good about."

Along with Jake Allen, the Blues now have two goalies that will want to keep the puck moving and keep plays flowing smoothly for easier transition.

"I like the way he moves the puck," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Hutton. "Smart, a step ahead of the play. He's really sound and solid. He's had a great camp and he's played well in the scrimmages, he's played well in the games. That's a great sign.

"He was our best player today. First period, we were outplayed. Looked like we still had legs on the bus. But I thought he was really good. He played great the whole game. That's a real good sign. That's the best sign from tonight."

"I get out there and handle the puck," Hutton said. "I try to be like a third defenseman back there. 

"Early on for me, it's the feel, play pucks. I think with the d-men, too, you're just ironing things out right now." 

The best news for the Blues in the first period was the play of Hutton, who made 11 saves despite allowing a late first-period goal to the Stars' Patrik Nemeth.

Hutton made a number of nice saves but couldn't get to Nemeth's shot from the slot, one that beat the Blues goalie high under the cross bar with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining.

The Blues played better in the second period and attacked the offensive zone with some more authority, but came out down 2-1.

Shattenkirk's third goal in two games, a power play goal 5:34 into the second, tied the game 1-1. It came off Kenny Agostino's pass to the left circle, and Shattenkirk whistled a wrist shot short side past Kari Lehtonen, who was screened on the play by Magnus Paajarvi.

The Blues took a number of penalties, and the sixth finally hurt when Glenn Gawdin took an offensive zone cross checking penalty that resulted in Jiri Hudler's goal.

Hudler scored with 1:03 left in the period, redirecting Jason Spezza's shot/pass up over Hutton. The Blues had killed off five straight minors to that point.

Hutton stopped 21 of 23 shots before giving way to Ville Husso in the third.

Lehtonen, who made nine saves on 10 shots, was replaced with 9:10 remaining in the second by Maxime Legace.

The Stars put the game away when Patrick Eaves took advantage of a 2-on-0 off a feather pass from Mattias Janmark with 4:06 to play, giving Husso no chance to make the save. Ryan Reaves' pass to defenseman Mike Weber was too tough to handle, the puck squirted past Weber and the speedy Stars were off to the races.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Kyle Brodziak (right) and Stars' Gemel Smith fight for a loose
puck during Dallas' 3-1 preseason victory over St. Louis Monday night.

"They outskated us in the first and then the second and third periods, we were probably even," Hitchcock said. "I liked some guys' battle level and stuff in the second and third. I didn't like anything we did in the first, but I liked the things we did in the second and third; we did a good job. 

"Evaluation continues. We had some people that were really good yesterday and probably dropped off a little bit today. That's what training camp's for."

The Blues will make more cuts on Tuesday and Wednesday before Hitchcock said they will get a feel for what a more polished roster will look like.

Hitchcock did say those left that played in the World Cup of Hockey, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera, Patrik Berglund and Colton Parayko along with Dmitrij Jaskin will be full participants in camp by Thursday.

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