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Jets' Hutchinson shuts out Blackhawks in rare start

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Michael Hutchinson's second start for the Winnipeg Jets this season went a lot better than his first.

Hutchinson made 33 saves and earned his first career shutout Sunday at United Center to help the Jets defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0.

"I was just excited to get back in the net," said Hutchinson, who was pulled early in the second period Oct. 12 against the Los Angeles Kings in his first start. "After my first [start] didn't go as well as I'd have liked, it was nice to just get back in there and get the feel of a game."

It was the second shutout in as many days for Winnipeg (6-5-1), which got a 38-save shutout Saturday from Ondrej Pavelec in a 1-0 shootout win at the New York Rangers.

The Jets allowed one goal over the final three games of their four-game road trip to finish 3-0-1; they lost to the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday.

Former Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik scored 20 seconds into the game Sunday, and that was all Hutchinson needed.

"We were physical," said Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian, who assisted on Frolik's goal. "I thought we used our size and speed and created turnovers that way. They have a lot of skilled players, right? If you give them a lot of time and space, they're going to make a lot of great plays. If you eliminate that and you're physical on those guys, they might think twice about stickhandling or making that play."

That strategy worked against the Blackhawks (6-5-1), who lost both games of a back-to-back weekend set and have lost five of their past seven.

Chicago struggled moving the puck up the ice against the Jets for most of the opening period and for key stretches in the final 40 minutes.

The Blackhawks outshot the Jets 33-27 -- they've outshot 10 of 12 opponents -- but the scoring woes that have plagued them since the preseason continued. Chicago has gone seven straight periods without scoring on home ice.

Of the 27 non-shootout goals Chicago has scored, 14 came in wins against the Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators. In the other nine games, the Blackhawks have scored 13 goals (1.44 per game).

"Every game has been close," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've lost some tough games here. It's just something that we haven't seen before with the lack of production. It's contagious right now across the board, whether it's a timely goal or an ugly goal."

The Jets, who have rebounded from a 1-4-0 start to the season, won the opening faceoff and put two shots on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (26 saves) before he could take a breath. Frolik scooped a rebound of the second shot in the low slot, dragged the puck to the bottom of the left circle and lifted a wrist shot into the net over diving defenseman Brent Seabrook and the sprawled Crawford.

It was Frolik's first goal of the season.

The Jets controlled the play for the remaining 19:40, and the Blackhawks, who lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, committed numerous turnovers and struggled to get their puck-possession game going.

"We do play well, it's just kind of in spurts," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had one shot in 22:41 but rang a one-time slap shot off the crossbar during a power play in the second. "It's not consistent enough. Like we've said lately, it's frustrating, but what are you going to do? You have to work through it. You have to find a way to break out of that funk that we're in as far as goal-scoring goes. I think we'll keep working hard, and the small details will take care of themselves."

The Jets blocked 30 shots and prevented Hutchinson from having to make a lot of challenging saves.

Hutchinson's most impressive save happened late in the first, when he made a sprawling pad save to thwart a breakaway by Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who led Chicago with seven shots.

The Blackhawks steadily improved through a scoreless second, but still couldn't get a puck past Hutchinson.

In the third period, they created even more chances to score, but again failed to solve Hutchinson, who made 13 saves in the final 20 minutes. The Jets blocked 10 shots in the third, including a memorable one by forward Evander Kane to deny a slap shot by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with 1:43 left.

"It really gets you excited as a goalie to see players laying down in front of shots and blocking them for you," Hutchinson said. "We had some really key ones, especially with the goalie pulled for them at the end of the third period. This road trip's been really good for us. We've really gelled together on the road and I think it shows on the ice. We're really committed to team defense."

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