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Blues reward backup goalie with start vs. Rangers

Carter Hutton to play first game for St. Louis, New York goes with lineup that won season opener

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

RANGERS (1-0-0) at BLUES (2-0-0)

8 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-MW, NHL.TV

ST. LOUIS -- After coach Ken Hitchcock called him one of the best players during training camp, goalie Carter Hutton will make his regular-season debut for the St. Louis Blues on Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Hutton, signed to a two-year, $2.25 million free agent contract on July 1 to back up starter Jake Allen, will get his first start for the Blues, who will try to begin the season with three straight wins for the fourth time in franchise history. St. Louis also started 3-0-0 in 1969-70, 1993-94 and 2013-14.

"Obviously excited, what a crowd [Thursday] night, what a fun win and obviously a big one to start in Chicago," Hutton said. "I'm just excited to get in there and looking forward to it.

"... You can get into every little detail but sometimes less is more in my world and just excited to get in there and play. Control what I can and play my game."

Playing three games in four nights almost always means a team will use each of its goaltenders.

But Hitchcock wants to reward Hutton, even though he had the option of going back to Allen, who faced a total of 40 shots in wins against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

"We made the decision with the three games that we're playing, we wanted to take a look at guys and if we saw some chemistry, we'd lock in on it," Hitchcock said. "But also on Hutton, it's an early reward for a job well done in training camp. He did a great job during training camp; he was outstanding. And he's part of our team moving forward. We've got to get him in the action as quickly as possible."

Not that Hitchcock had any complaints with the play of his starter.

"[Allen] might not have had a lot of shots, but what he did have, he's had a lot of quality shots. He had three breakaways [Thursday], he had two the game before. He's had a lot of really high-quality scoring chances that he's turned back," he said. "I just think playing off back-to-back, three games in four nights under normal circumstances, if this was the middle of the season, we'd be playing Carter anyways, so why not start it up now."

The Rangers, coming off a season-opening 5-3 home victory against the New York Islanders, did not have a full morning skate. Defenseman Dylan McIlrath, a healthy scratch Thursday, and backup goalie Antti Raanta were the only players on the ice. The Rangers are not expected to make any lineup changes.

Left wing Chris Kreider and fourth-line center Brandon Pirri each had a goal and an assist in the opener, and center Mika Zibanejad had two assists in his Rangers debut.

Video: NYI@NYR: Kreider beats Halak for go-ahead goal

"I think [Kreider] just came in here with the right attitude and he's playing to his strengths," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Daily News on Friday. "Obviously, that's being a power forward, using his speed when he has the puck and using his speed on the forecheck to create a turnover. Power forwards have to go to the tough areas, and we saw that [Thursday]. It was a good start for him and his line."

 

Rangers projected lineup

Jimmy Vesey -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

J.T. Miller -- Kevin Hayes -- Rick Nash

Michael Grabner -- Brandon Pirri -- Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Marc Staal -- Nick Holden

Brady Skjei -- Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Josh Jooris, Dylan McIlrath

Injured: Oscar Lindberg (hip), Kevin Klein (back)

 
Blues projected lineup

Robby Fabbri -- Paul Stastny -- Alexander Steen

David Perron -- Jori Lehtera -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi -- Patrik Berglund -- Nail Yakupov

Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko

Carter Hutton

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (elbow)

 
Status report

Klein did not make the trip and is day-to-day. … The only lineup change for the Blues from Thursday is playing Hutton instead of Allen. Schwartz skated with the Blues for a second straight day but is still on the same recovery timeline of four weeks.

 
Who's hot

Stastny has four points in two games; Shattenkirk, Steen and Tarasenko each have three. ... The Blues were the last team Lundqvist defeated in his NHL career. He started 0-4-0 against St. Louis but has won three in a row since then. ... Nash has 46 points in 53 games against St. Louis.

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