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Hutchinson steps up to help Avalanche avoid elimination in Game 5

Goalie, who was third on depth chart, makes 31 saves against Stars in first NHL playoff start

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

Michael Hutchinson became the 14th goalie to win his first Stanley Cup Playoff start and avoid elimination when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Dallas Stars 6-3 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday.

"I've had a pretty long career so far and this was my first playoff start," said Hutchinson, who made 31 saves. "It's what you work for when you're a kid. Your dream when playing in the backyard is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So, for myself, I was excited, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to get a chance to play."

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told Hutchinson on Sunday he would start in place of Pavel Francouz, who was unfit to play. Francouz allowed five goals on 26 shots in a 5-4 loss in Game 4 on Sunday before being replaced in the third period by Hutchinson, who made three saves in his NHL playoff debut.

He's the first to extend a series in his first start since April 22, 2010, when Pascal Leclaire and the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in triple overtime in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Leclaire and Ottawa would go on to lose 4-3 in overtime in Game 6.

Game 6 of the best-of-7 series will be in Edmonton, the West hub city, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN). It is unknown if Hutchinson will start again.

Colorado gave Hutchinson a cushion early in the game on Monday, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and outshooting Dallas 23-5 in the first period. However, he said that didn't lessen the pressure on him.

"Dallas has a very good offensive game," Hutchinson said. "You saw what they did to [the Calgary Flames] last series after Calgary got off to a fast start (in Game 6, leading 3-0 then losing 7-3). Your game doesn't change whether you're up by a lot or it's a close game. Just stay present for the moment and be ready for anything."

Video: Avalanche win Game 5 behind five-goal 1st period

He was busier in the third period, saving 17 of 18 shots against the Stars, whose goalie Anton Khudobin left the net for an extra attacker with 5:40 remaining.

"He didn't get a lot of work early, but certainly did as the game went on," Bednar said. "Dallas made a push, we took a bunch of penalties again (4-for-6 on the penalty kill). We were confident going in, if we played the way we could play, 'Hutch' could have a night for us, and he did. I couldn't be more happy for the guy."

Hutchinson started the playoffs as the Avalanche's third goalie behind Philipp Grubauer and Francouz. He has backed up Francouz since the second period of Game 1 against the Stars, when Grubauer was injured.

Francouz has allowed 15 goals on 109 shots against the Stars for a 4.54 goals-against average and .862 save percentage.

Hutchinson started one game for the Avalanche in the regular season, making 17 saves in a 2-1 win at the Detroit Red Wings on March 2. Colorado acquired him in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24. He was 4-9-1 with a 3.66 GAA and an .886 save percentage in 15 games (11 starts) with Toronto this season.

The 30-year-old is 51-52-14 with a 2.80 GAA and .905 save percentage in 127 NHL games (107 starts) with the Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Maple Leafs and Avalanche.

Hunter Miska, who backed up Hutchinson, has played one NHL game, in relief in 2018 for the Arizona Coyotes. The 25-year-old signed with the Avalanche on Feb. 10 and was the backup to Francouz for four games (Feb. 17-22). He played 26 games for Colorado of the American Hockey League and three games for Utah of the ECHL this season.

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