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Hutchinson's 45 saves help Jets defeat Blackhawks

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The last thing the Chicago Blackhawks wanted to see Thursday was Michael Hutchison in goal for the Winnipeg Jets.

Hutchinson made a career-high 45 saves to help the Jets complete their six-game homestand with a 3-1 win against the Blackhawks.

"I don't know what it is," said Hutchinson, who is 4-0-1 with a .965 save percentage in his career against Chicago. "It seems like it's one of those teams that is easy to get up against, especially with them being the defending Stanley Cup champions. But our whole team got up for the game.

"I don't think they like playing us. We play pretty physically against them. It's a full team effort when we play [Chicago]."

Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Mark Scheifele scored, and Bryan Little had two assists.

The Jets (6-3-1), who went 3-2-1 on their homestand, will play eight of their next nine games on the road. A four-game trip begins Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"To end it with a win and beat the Blackhawks, it doesn't get any better," Little said.

Chicago's four-game winning streak came to an end. The Blackhawks (6-4-0) finish a two-game trip Friday against the Minnesota Wild.

Patrick Kane scored on a power play for the Blackhawks, and goalie Corey Crawford made 28 saves in his fifth consecutive start.

"I thought we worked hard, but I don't think we played with much of a purpose," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "[We had] some good looks. We had way more chances than in prior games."

Kane's sixth goal, a one-timer off Artemi Panarin's cross-ice feed to the right circle past Hutchinson 1:26 into the game, gave the Blackhawks early momentum.

"I thought we had a great start to the game, so it's disappointing to get up 1-0, give one back, and then they kind of took the momentum after that," Kane said. "Good start by us, but a disappointing finish."

Wheeler's fifth goal, a snap shot past Crawford's left glove at 8:12 halted Chicago's quick beginning and ended Crawford's shutout streak at 141:33.

Winnipeg took its first lead 5:09 into the second period on Ladd's third goal when he finished Little's rebound on the power play. Scheifele's fourth goal on a wrist shot with 11:56 left in the third period made it 3-1.

"The goal is to keep building on what we've established so far," Ladd said. "That's the key to every good team. During those games when the other team is going to push, you need to push back and find a way to carry the play."

Hutchinson went 12 days between starts at one point this month, but he has started two of the past three games, winning each.

"What [Hutchinson] has done so well is build a routine for himself that he follows daily," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "His work ethic never changes. He clearly has had some success there and earned it. He didn't get it easily done [Thursday]. He worked hard for it."

Chicago had the first six shots and the final six shots, but scoring continues to be an issue. The Blackhawks are tied for 26th in the NHL at 2.00 goals per game. Chicago has gone 235:08 without a 5-on-5 goal, dating to Oct. 22 when Artem Anisimov scored in the first period of a 3-2 home win against the Florida Panthers.

Since Anisimov's goal, the Blackhawks have three power-play goals and two overtime goals over three-plus games.

"I think the positive is that we showed quite a few spurts where we were working and had that momentum and were in control of the game," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "The times where we let up, I think, are the ones that are hurting us.

"We've got to try to tighten up our game, be more consistent and stay with it. You can't get frustrated. Keep working and eventually pucks will go in. The more that they do (go in), the more confidence we'll get, and it will feed off itself. We want to keep shooting the puck from anywhere and go for those second efforts and rebounds, and that's how we're going to break through."

Chicago's 14-shot third period could not break Hutchinson, but Kane said generating shots and creating traffic in front of opponents' nets will continue to be emphasized.

"At this point in time, we can do things to try to make it tougher on their goalie," Kane said. "Try to get to the net. Stay at the net. Get shots through. Try to bang in goals that way. Get some dirty goals, because it seems like all of the pretty plays aren't happening for us."

For the Jets, the win provides another building block as they prepare to spend most of the first half of November away from home.

"They're invested and they're trying to get better," Maurice said. "We do some things well, and we've got lots of room to improve."

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