Backup goalie Hutton leads Predators to win
WINNIPEG -- Geography and the rigors of the NHL schedule were working against the Nashville Predators on Sunday, but backup goaltender Carter Hutton led them to a victory against the Winnipeg Jets.
After playing at the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, the Predators made the long trip to Winnipeg to meet the Jets at MTS Centre, where Hutton made his first start of the season, stopped 37 shots and stopped the Jets 3-1 for his first NHL win.
Nashville (5-4-0) ripped open a scoreless game with three second-period goals that required seven shots. Eric Nystrom's shorthanded goal 20 seconds into the period gave Nashville a 1-0 lead. Patric Hornqvist then scored his team-leading third goal to build a two-goal lead that Hutton and the Predators rode through the rest of the game. Matt Cullen scored the Predators' third goal to finish off Winnipeg (4-5-0).
Nashville has picked up points in its past five games, four of them wins that included a 2-1 road victory Saturday at Montreal. While the Predators played and then flew to Winnipeg overnight, the Jets rested and are nearing the end of a six-game homestand. Winnipeg's seven home dates so far lead the League, but the Jets have two wins through the homestand's first five games.
Hutton, whose only work this season was relief duty Oct. 3 against the St. Louis Blues, gave workhorse goaltender Pekka Rinne a break as the Predators are in a stretch in which they play nine of 11 games on the road. Evander Kane's goal with 10:47 left in the game broke up Hutton's shutout bid. Hutton made 38 saves in his first win.
Ondrej Pavelec started for the eighth time in Winnipeg's first nine games and gave the Jets 23 saves. Winnipeg was missing injured defensemen Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba and center Jim Slater. Coach Claude Noel again shuffled his forward lines, inserting Devin Setoguchi, a healthy scratch Friday in a 4-3 shootout win against St. Louis, back into the Jets' lineup in an attempt to spark an offense still searching for consistency.
Nashville's power play ranked 16th in the League before the game, but it has been hot lately. Cullen's goal gave the Predators a power-play goal in four of their past five games.
Nashville's Matt Hendricks took a tripping minor 10 seconds into the second period, giving the Jets their second power play. But Nystrom blocked Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien's point shot, cruised into the Winnipeg zone and backed off defender Tobias Enstrom before snapping a hard shot past Pavelec 10 seconds into the Hendricks minor for the Predators' first shorthanded goal this season.
Hornqvist stopped Pavelec's clearing attempt at the right boards and directed a shot that was heading wide until it deflected off Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian's skate and into the Winnipeg net at 12:07.
Cullen extended Nashville's lead to 3-0 at 14:57 with Bogosian off for cross-checking. The Nashville power play pulled Pavelec out of position, drawing the goaltender to the ice, and Cullen drove a shot under the crossbar from the left dot.
The Jets cut the Nashville lead to 3-1 midway through the third period when Kane jabbed a rebound under Hutton's pads at 9:13.