Hellebuyck returns home when Jets visit Bruins
BOSTON — Connor Hellebuyck is experiencing a series of emotions heading into this weekend.
The Winnipeg goalie posted his first shutout of the season when he blanked the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night — making 27 saves for his third shutout in 38 career starts.
Thursday, the tables were turned and he gave up four goals in a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Saturday, Hellebuyck, who played collegiately at UMass-Lowell, comes “home,” with the Jets facing the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
They also play Sunday at Carolina. Coach Paul Maurice says he will play both goalies — Hellebuyck and Mike Hutchinson — over the weekend, but you know Hellebuyck wants another shot at the Bruins. He lost to Boston 4-1 in Winnipeg Oct. 17.
As far as what's happened to him this week, especially the loss, Hellebuyck told the team's website, “Put it behind you and continue striving forward. That's just how hockey goes. There's 82 games and you can't look at one as the most important game of all. You just have to continue going forward and winning as many as possible.”
If Hellebuyck, 0-2 with a 4.55 goals against average and just a .829 save percentage in two games against the Bruins, plays Saturday, he'll likely face Boston's Tuukka Rask, who was at the other end of the Oct. 17 Boston win. That was one of seven wins recorded by Rask before suffering his first road loss, at Minnesota, Thursday — a 1-0 defeat on a goal with 45 seconds left.
Rask, who didn't have a strong season as the Bruins missed the playoffs for a second straight year in 2015-16, is off to a great start. He is 10-2 overall, with a 1.49 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.
He was great again Thursday before suffering the loss on a goal that went by him off the skate of defenseman Adam McQuaid.
“He's been great,” said teammate Brad Marchand. “We need him to play like that if we're going to be a good team. “When he does, he gives us an opportunity to win every night. It's great to see him at the top of his game. We need him to continue to do that.”
Said coach Claude Julien: “He had a bit of an off year last year, but he's been good. He's won the Vezina, he's a guy that's had some good save percentages. He's a guy that certainly deserves the accolades he's getting right now.
“He's been solid since the start of the season, and he's given us a chance to win every night.”
The Bruins scored just four goals on their three-game trip that ended in Minnesota — but they went 2-1 thanks largely to Rask. Boston comes into this game 10-7-0 on the season.
The Bruins played without young scoring star David Pastrnak (undisclosed injury) Thursday, and there was no word on whether he'll be back for Saturday's game. But the local fans will see another high-scoring young player as Winnipeg's Patrick Laine makes his TD Garden debut.
While he scored just one goal in the last five games, Laine has 12 for his rookie season and already had two hat tricks.
The Jets enter this game 9-8-2 on the season.