Little lifts Jets past Bruins in shootout
Michael Hutchinson’s first NHL victory was a little extra special.
The Winnipeg goalie made 32 saves in his second game, beating the team that drafted him as the Jets topped the Boston Bruins 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night.
"You really want that first win against them," Hutchinson said, "kind of show them what they gave up on."
Hutchinson was selected by the Bruins in the third round (77th overall) in the 2008 entry draft, and was signed by the Jets before this season. He saved the game for the Jets after Olli Jokinen was called for holding with 40 seconds left in overtime, and needed to make a snapping glove save on a blast from David Krejci with 7 seconds left to send it to a shootout.
Bryan Little scored in the shootout, beating Chad Johnson with a low shot between his pads, the only scorer in three rounds to give Winnipeg a win in its home finale.
"He was outstanding," Blake Wheeler said of Hutchinson, whose first NHL game was a 1-0 loss on Monday against Minnesota. "He really kept us in the game. They had some point-blank opportunities to add to their lead and he kind of put us away and he gave us an opportunity to tie the game."
Hutchinson made quite the impression, and will be returned to the St. John’s IceCaps for their AHL playoffs.
"He read those seams perfectly," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "His push was perfect, square on that shot, and he knew where that was going. The players played as hard as they could to give him a chance to be great and win and that’s what happened. He was great, we win."
Winnipeg’s Evander Kane tied the game at 1 with a wrister that beat Johnson over his glove with 1:57 left in the third period. Just a few minutes earlier, Kane had hit the post after fans started chanting "Go Jets Go!" to try to propel their team to a victory.
Brad Marchand scored the opening goal at 10:12 of the first period for the NHL-leading Bruins, who have clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference and have 115 points to lead the NHL, three ahead of the idle Anaheim Ducks.
But coach Claude Julien was far from pleased.
"We looked like a disinterested team tonight," Julien said. "(The Jets) were determined to have a good, strong finish here and they did. They were the better team tonight from start to finish. I thought our goaltender was the reason we were able to come out of here with at least a point."
Added Marchand: "It felt more like an exhibition game out there."
The fans gave the Jets a standing ovation after the game, and the players skated to center ice and raised their sticks toward the sold-out crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre. It was the third straight season the local fans bid farewell to the Jets without watching a playoff game, and the seventh season in a row the former Atlanta franchise has missed the postseason.
"They show up every night and cheer us on hard and we’re very appreciative of that," Wheeler said. "The results aren’t where we want them to be, so the only thing we can do is try to work on that and improve in the future."
Marchand opened the scoring when he used Reilly Smith’s dumped-in shot off the back boards to beat Hutchinson with a backhand shot.
Jarome Iginla almost added to the lead with a breakaway, but Hutchinson came out and stopped the wrist shot with just under four minutes to go in the period in which the Jets outshot the Bruins 12-6.
A scoreless second period saw Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart throw his weight around the ice. First, Stuart smacked into Loui Eriksson standing at the side of the Jets net and knocked him into the backboards. Eriksson wasn’t injured and Stuart didn’t draw a penalty. A few minutes later, Stuart sent Marchand to the ice with a high stick. Marchand got up slowly, but returned to action while Stuart was sent to the box.
Wheeler set up Kane’s tying goal when he raced down the side of the ice and sent the pass to Kane in front of the net. It was Wheeler’s 41st assist of the season and 64th point, which bumped up the career high he’s set this season.
NOTES: The Jets had a 35-31 edge in shots on goal after regulation. … Boston rested center Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Zdeno Chara. … Winnipeg was without captain Andrew Ladd (elbow) and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (upper-body), who won’t play the final game.