Michael Hutchinson is, indeed, human.
Winnipeg’s Alexander Steen scored the winning goal in the shootout while Winnipeg’s Ryan Reaves set up St. Louis’s only goal in regulation as the Blues beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 at MTS Centre on Thursday night.
Hutchinson, meanwhile, finally gave up a goal in the shootout. He had stopped 14 straight this season heading into Thursday night’s shootout against the Blues and then stopped TJ Oshie on the first shot of the shootout to stretch that streak to 15.
However, Vladimir Tarasenko and Steen scored back-to-back shootout goals to give the Blues a 2-1 victory.
“I think you saw a springtime style hockey game tonight,” said Jets defenseman Jay Harrison who was paired with Dustin Byfuglien on Thursday night. “Both teams were taking bodies everywhere. It was disappointing to drop the shootout, but there were a lot of positives that we can take out of that game and we can use to move forward.
“We know in the room that we can play with one of the best teams in the NHL, We were pretty good tonight. It came down to the shootout and that’s when it’s anybody’s game, but for 65 minutes we played pretty well.”
It was, indeed, a close hockey game. Winnipeg dominated the first period, outshooting the Blues 11-4, but the Jets couldn’t solve Blues netminder Brian Elliott and it was 0-0 after 20 minutes.
Each team had 11 shots in the second period, but St. Louis got a goal from Patrik Berglund, a goal that was set up by Reaves and Paul Stastny. It was 1-0 after two periods.
In the third period, St. Louis outshot Winnipeg 9-6, but the Jets got the only goal as Mark Scheifele scored his 10th of the year from Andrew Ladd and Michael Frolik.
It was a tremendous hockey game and as Harrison pointed out, it was playoff-style hockey. There weren’t a lot of whistles in the first two periods and the flow was outstanding.
Scheifele had a terrific game for the Jets, but Andrew Ladd was exceptional. He not only dished out his 30th assist, he had 10 hits in 23 minutes and 32 seconds of icetime.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson was solid once again. Each team had 29 shots on goal and both Elliott and Hutchinson were terrific. Hutchinson is now 18-7-5 this season and is 4-0-3 in his last seven games – that’s 11 of a possible 14 points. Expect Hutchinson to back in the Jets net this Sunday.
“It was a well-played game, a hard-fought game,” said Jets head coach, Paul Maurice. “It was disciplined but hard-fought. It’s the way we play when we play well and the way they play when they play well.
“Mark Scheifele’s line generated 12 shots on goal. Hutch was the guy we’ve seen all year. Jiri Tlusty played a solid, safe game and his linemates had some chances. He was good, I was pleased with his play. All positives tonight. I don’t think we were lacking in any area. If you bring that game every night, then you’re proud of the way you play and you deserve to win when you play like that.”
Maurice also said that there is a decent chance that Blake Wheeler could be back in the lineup on Sunday when the Los Angeles Kings come to town.
With the single point, combined with Vancouver’s 6-3 loss in Buffalo, the Jets are now 31-20-12 and all by themselves in fifth place in the West, one point ahead of the sixth-place Canucks.
Minnesota beat Nashville 4-2 in Nashville on Thursday, so the Wild jumped into seventh-place with 71 points. Los Angeles and Calgary have 70 and San Jose (68 heading into last night’s action) was playing a late game against Detroit.
The Jets will get a real test on Sunday when they meet the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings at 3 p.m. at MTS Centre. Sunday’s game can be seen on TSN3.