DENVER, Colorado - For the second time in as many nights, an outstanding goaltending performance backstopped the Winnipeg Jets to victory.
Michael Hutchinson, who was given the reigns on this, Night 2 of a difficult back-to-back situation, turned in his best performance of the season, denying all 37 shots he faced to lead his team to a shutout win over the Central Division rival Colorado Avalanche.
Shawn Matthias got the game's only goal, scoring off a beautiful feed from Joel Armia midway through the second period to put the Jets in front for good.
"It was a strong performance by us," captain Blake Wheeler said. "It's never easy in back-to-back games, and traveling from Winnipeg to Denver, it poses a lot of challenges. We did a great job with that and it's something we can be proud of.
"From the drop of the puck you could tell we had the right mindset. … There wasn't a whole lot to be had on either side, but we capitalized on of our great chances and our goaltending and defence did a good job keeping it out of our net. 1-0, back-to-back, on the road? That's like a Picasso right there."
The shutout was Hutchinson's first in 51 appearances, dating back to Jan. 21, 2015. In the last two nights combined, the two Winnipeg netminders - Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck - have stopped 75 of 76 shots.
Video: POSTGAME | Michael Hutchinson
"You need that on back-to-back nights," Head Coach Paul Maurice said. "(Hutchinson) was spectacular and especially in some of the chaos that was going on in front of the net. He found a way to get a piece of some of those shots. I'm happy for him; he's worked hard. He's played three very strong games for us and now he gets the statistically number that reflects that."
A couple of nights ago, Matthias - a former Av - told WinnipegJets.com that the next time he got a pass like the one or two he got in a disappointing one-goal loss to the Stars, he was going to bury it.
Promise kept. And what a way to do it.
Another exceptional pass by Armia landed right on the tape at the far circle and No. 16 made no mistake, launching a sizzler five-hole on Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov.
"It's nice to score against your former team," Matthias said. "These last two nights have been huge for our club.
Armia, meanwhile, continues to impress - earning the praise of Matthias and the rest of his teammates after a week of dominant play.
"He's been playing really well for us. He's got a lot of talent and he's playing with a lot of confidence right now."
"They've (Armia, Matthias and Adam Lowry) been so strong in every part of the game, and now they're generating offence for us," Maurice added. "They're playing against the other teams' top lines and we're really excited about what they could continue to do."
Hutchinson kept the Jets in front with a number of incredible stops, including a pair off Jarome Iginla during a nervy Avalanche power play.
The Jets were having an excellent game through two periods but fatigue became a factor in the final frame as the Avalanche poured it on. The Jets were outshot 20-4, but Hutchinson held them off.
Video: WPG@COL: Hutchinson denies Martinsen's wrister
"We knew they were going to have a push," he said, "but our guys did a great job. They had a lot of shots in the third but I don't think that was indicative of the way we played defensively and the effort we put forth. We had some key blocked shots all game, but especially in the third. Everyone was on the right side of the puck, back-checking hard and we didn't give up too many odd-man rushes.
"It's always nice to get a shutout, but at the end of the day, as long as you get two points that's all that matters."
It was a 0-0 game with the shots in Winnipeg's favour, 10-6, after one period of play.
Mark Scheifele appeared to put the Jets in front with a power-play goal midway through the period, but it was called back almost immediately. Patrik Laine wired a one-timer and Scheifele poked in the rebound, but referee Kelly Sutherland waved it off, believing the puck was covered by the netminder.
"We started right, which was good," Maurice said, pleased that the team carried over a strong performance 24 hours ago against another division rival.
"We handled some adversity early in the game in the disallowed goal. We started to show it a little bit in the third, but when all the prettiness in the game left, we blocked shots, took hits and did all the hard things you need to do."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com