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Hutton sets franchise record in shutout of Los Angeles

Goalie makes 47 saves to earn second straight shutout

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

LOS ANGELES - Carter Hutton saves a puck from all his shutouts. They're stowed away somewhere - with his father, he guesses - for a future date when he's finally able to sit down and reflect on his career.

He's added two to that collection in the past five days. Rasmus Ristolainen flipped the latest addition to his goaltender after he put the finishing touches on his second straight shutout, a 47-save masterpiece against the Los Angeles Kings inside Staples Center on Thursday night.

"Maybe later on I'll look back on but right now, you just try to be in the moment and just enjoy the win," Hutton said afterward. "We've got a day off tomorrow. That's the only thing we're looking forward to right now."

Video: BUF@LAK: Hutton stops 47, extends shutout streak

This one will live in the record books as well. Hutton's 47 saves were the most by a Sabres goaltender in a regular-season shutout, surpassing Chad Johnson's mark of 44 set in December 2015. Hutton fell one save short of his own personal record, which he achieved with St. Louis two seasons ago. 

Hutton has now gone 128:36 without allowing a goal, a stretch that dates back to the third period of Buffalo's overtime win against Montreal last Wednesday. He made 25 saves to shutout the Dallas Stars on Monday, his first as a member of the Sabres. 

Playing the second of back-to-back road games, the Sabres built an early two-goal lead with goals from Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary that came by the 5:20 mark of the first period. Mittelstadt added another goal on the power play at 2:32 of the second. 

From that point on, Hutton stole the show.

"We lacked energy somehow in the second period, but he kept us in it. In the third, we helped him a lot more," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "We limited their chances and defended better, but there was a stretch in the second where he was really world-class. 

"We're pleased to see these back-to-back shutouts for him. Congratulations to Carter, all his hard work is paying off here."

If you can think it, Hutton probably saw it on Thursday. He stopped one-timers, rebounds, wrist shots and wrap-around attempts in both directions. Linus Ullmark could tell his partner was on early, citing a mini-breakaway stop against Anze Kopitar in the first period as an early indicator. 

"That one was huge for us," Ullmark said. "Then there's a big one in the second period as well on the rebound. And then in the third period I thought that he played very big. He had good rebound control, kept pucks out to the outside. There was no real big second chances for them."

As the game wore on, Ullmark had his usual chats with Hutton at the bench during stoppages. Those pauses, he said, can be a time for a goalie to give his mind a break from the task at hand.

"Sometimes just shooting the s*** is a good way of doing that," he said. 

Hutton helped the Sabres weather the second-period storm, including a stop on a put-back attempt by Jeff Carter from point-blank range. A pair of penalties late in the period forced the Sabres to start the third down two men for 1:12. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Not today. 🙅���������#Sabres50 | @CarterHutton pic.twitter.com/hMUG7xBWex

The goalie stopped the one chance he faced during that 5-on-3, a deflection into his glove on a pass through the crease. He robbed Tyler Toffoli on a put-back attempt shortly thereafter, then finished the shutout as his defense settled down for the rest of the third period. 

"You just keep competing," Hutton said. "You can't really let your guard down. You never think you're unbeatable by any means. They had a lot of chances and stuff. I think for us, that 5-on-3 kill was like a big set. In the second there we were kind of getting frustrated. We thought we were giving up a little too much.

"Especially with a three-goal lead, we'd like to be a little tighter. But, the 5-on-3 happens and it's a big kill. I don't think they really had much. They had like maybe one or two shots and from there we just kind of take the game over."

The goalie's demeanor helped. Mittelstadt referred to Hutton as a calming presence in the defensive zone, an assessment echoed by his coach.

"No matter what's going on, the game could be chaos and you look back and he's always calm and relaxed and he does a great job," Mittelstadt said. "Obviously, he's a great guy in the room and he stole us that one tonight."

"He's, off the ice, first of all, just a very strong leader for us," Krueger added. "But within the game, he just lives in a very small, controlled world. His emotions are flat but intense. You really enjoy having that kind of presence in the room and on the ice."

Hutton finished the game ranked second in the NHL in save percentage (.953) and goals-against average (1.39). In both categories, he trails another name etched in the Sabres' record books: Ducks goalie Ryan Miller, who's made just one start this season. 

He's also won all five of his starts, tied for the league lead with Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury. This one came with the Sabres in need of a response, just 24 hours removed from their first regulation loss of the season.

"It's just about winning hockey games," Hutton said. "We found a way to win, that's what matters. We got our two points. Back to backs aren't easy. They pressed and we held the fort."

 

Mittelstadt gets rewarded

Sheary returned from a four-game absence caused by an upper-body injury and re-joined a line with Mittelstadt and Jimmy Vesey. The trio wasted little time before finding the score sheet. 

Mittelstadt put the Sabres on the board 2:36 into the contest on a one-time shot fed by Vesey after the two teamed up to force a takeaway in the neutral zone. It was the first goal of the season for the second-year forward, who felt offense was coming given his recent performance.

Video: BUF@LAK: Mittelstadt nets one-timer from the circle

"We were pretty due," Mittelstadt said. "I think the last few games we had quite a few chances, especially the last couple even though Shears was out. I've played with him enough that it was pretty easy to pick up where we left off. It felt good."

It took less than two minutes for the line to strike again. This time, it was Mittelstadt setting up a Sheary one-timer on the rush. Sheary slid on both knees as he buried the shot from the right circle. 

Video: BUF@LAK: Sheary wires one-timer past Campbell

Mittelstadt completed his three-point outing with a power-play goal in the second, creating a lane to make a low-to-high pass to Colin Miller at the point and then battling in front to deflect a pass from Rasmus Ristolainen into the net.

Video: BUF@LAK: Mittelstadt nets PPG for second goal of game

"We've been having those conversations with you about the evolution of Casey and his line," Krueger said. "I thought Conor came in with a lot of energy today and added to the punch. They could have had more, but they were the difference maker for sure for us tonight in the offense. 

"That's the kind of team we need to be. We need to find different ways to win, especially on back-to-backs. On a long trip like this, you need help, and you need everybody to chip in. it was just really a good night for them to step up. These are a big two points for us."

 

Up next

The Sabres conclude the road trip in San Jose on Saturday. Coverage on MSG begins at 10 p.m. with puck drop set for 10:30. 

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