Hutchinson stops 29 shots as Jets shut out Blue Jackets
Michael Hutchinson has plans to spend the NHL All-Star break in New York, but there could be a sudden detour.
The Jets rookie goalie made 29 saves, and Winnipeg stretched its winning streak to a season-high five games with a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who is slated to play in his first career All-Star game Sunday on his home rink in Columbus, was helped off the ice in the second period after he was injured while stretching to stop a wide shot by Michael Frolik.
Bobrovsky didn’t return to the game, and Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch that Bobrovsky had a lower-body injury and will have an MRI on Thursday.
It was Hutchinson’s second shutout of the season and the Jets’ third as Winnipeg outshot Columbus 30-29.
The 24-year-old netminder, who is 14-4-2, could end up replacing Bobrovsky during All-Star weekend.
"It would be awesome," Hutchinson said. "You grow up watching the All-Star game as a kid. To be able to participate, every single player in the league wants the chance to do that.
"Just to kind of be mentioned is an achievement in itself."
However, he hasn’t started looking up flights to Columbus just yet.
"I guess there was some talk, but there’s so many good goalies in the league that, you know, I’m not really holding my breath on anything," Hutchinson said.
He entered the game third in the league with a 2.00 goals-against average and second in save percentage at .932.
Bobrovsky stopped nine of the 12 shots he faced and was replaced by Curtis McElhinney.
Winnipeg scored on its first two shots, with Blake Wheeler netting his 13th at 1:08, and Evander Kane adding his 10th at 6:06.
Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn scored second-period goals for the Jets (26-14-8).
Winnipeg’s previous home shutout was a 3-0 win over Buffalo on Dec. 31, 2013.
Columbus (20-22-3) has been shut out three times this season. The Blue Jackets had won their past two games during this three-game trip.
"I don’t really know the extent of his injury right now, but he’s the backbone of this team and hopefully he’ll be back on the ice as soon as possible," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said of Bobrovsky. "It sinks all the energy out of the bench.
"He’s the most important player on our team and he goes down with an injury. You don’t want to see that on any team."
The Blue Jackets have three players selected to make their All-Star debuts — Bobrovsky, Johansen and Nick Foligno. It is the first time they have had more than one All-Star.
Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is the only Jets player participating in the game.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said if Bobrovsky can’t play and Hutchinson gets the nod to replace him, he would be happy for him but also a bit worried.
"We love Hutchie," Maurice said. "I’m not excited about goaltenders going to All-Star games. It’s the one lousy position in that game.
"How could you not be just enamored by the way he’s played? There are a lot of good goaltenders in this league, but he would certainly be a guy who’s earned it."
McElhinney made 17 saves in relief of Bobrovsky.
The Jets are 6-0-1 in their past seven games.
Wheeler opened the scoring when he took a pass from Andrew Ladd and got off a backhanded shot as he was spinning and falling in the slot.
Kane took a drop pass by Mark Scheifele just outside the top of the right circle and fired a low shot at Bobrovsky, who looked back in the net after the puck went through his pads at 6:06.
The Blue Jackets had a number of opportunities during the opening period, including a pair of power plays, but couldn’t score despite a 14-6 shots edge.
Columbus had the game’s third power play early in the second, but a minute after it expired, Jay Harrison’s point shot went through traffic and was tipped by Slater past Bobrovsky to make it 3-0.
Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, making his return after missing 16 games, had been in the penalty box for tripping before assisting on the goal at 4:45.
Bobrovsky was helped off the ice with 12:16 left in the period. Forward Jeremy Morin had already left with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.
The Blue Jackets were then hit with an unusual bit of bad luck.
The blade of Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin’s left skate fell off near his team’s net with 8:18 remaining in the period. Tyutin could barely balance and tried to position his body to block shots. He was then supported by a teammate as he made his way to the dressing room, but later returned.
Winnipeg soon made it 4-0 when Thorburn scored on a rebound with 5:50 remaining. The Jets outshot the Blue Jackets 17-7 in the second period.
Hutchinson had fans chanting his name in the third after he robbed a close shot by Brandon Dubinsky with about eight minutes left.
NOTES: Jets RW Anthony Peluso played in his 100th NHL game.