Winnipeg, MB. - Suddenly, the Winnipeg Jets have lost the ability to score goals.
After whipping the Ottawa Senators 5-1 last Monday night, the Jets fell 5-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks at home on Thursday night and then were beaten 2-0 by the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday.
Of course, to be fair, Blues goaltender Carter Hutton set a St. Louis franchise record by making 48 saves against a Jets offence that was, at times, relentless around the St. Louis net. It was Hutton’s first start since he suffered a foot injury on Dec. 1 and he was terrific.
"Tonight, I was kind of coming into the game with a little more nerves, a little more excitement, kind of mixed emotions," Hutton, told nhl.com. "I thought I settled in right away. First couple shots, I thought I was seeing it really well, tracking the puck off me, any rebounds. They put a lot of pucks to the net. (Jets forward Blake) Wheeler does a good job of just shooting for rebounds in tough areas. So for me, it almost gets me in the game.
“I like to compete and battle. I thought it kind of really played to my strength early on, and then I thought as the game went on, it was almost my puck-handling took over. I thought I handled the pucks. And then we did a good job in the third as we really didn't give up a whole lot.”
St. Louis won the game with two power play goals. Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power play goal at 9:16 of the first period and then Vince Dunn scored on the power play at 17:34 of the third period. In between, the Jets outshot St. Louis 48-30. Steve Mason played well in goal for the Jets, but Hutton was simply lights-out.
It was Winnipeg’s second straight loss, but they are still third in the Central Division with a record of 18-10-5. However, with 41 points, they are now just three points ahead of Dallas and four up on Chicago and Minnesota in the extremely competitive Central.
Meanwhile, the Blues, now 22-10-2, are tied for first in the West (and Central) with Nashville.
On Thursday night, the Jets were completely outplayed at times by a faster, more aggressive and intense Chicago Blackhawks attack. On Saturday, the Jets often took the play to the first-place Blues but they just couldn’t solve the mystery of Carter Hutton.
The Jets and Blues have their rematch at 5 p.m. today at Bell MTS Place. It will be a huge game for the Jets who face the high-flying Predators in Nashville on Tuesday night.
Scott Taylor for The Manitoba Post
Photo by James Carey Lauder