Look back to the game the Nashville Predators had in Carolina January 5th.
The Hurricanes scored two goals on shots that Carter Hutton probably should have stopped. Nashville scored just one goal in the game, but that did not prevent Predators head coach Barry Trotz from calling out Hutton postgame, saying the team needed those saves to win.
Friday night looked like it was headed in exactly the same direction.
Not challenged with a lot of shots early Friday against the New Jersey Devils, Hutton made the stops he needed to.
Midway through the second period, the New Jersey Devils had a flurry of good chances from in close. Hutton turned aside three shots off the stick of Ryane Clowe in the span of 32 seconds.
But soon after the third of those three saves, Hutton made a critical error on a shot by Patrik Elias. That attempt from above the left faceoff circle appeared to be sailing wide of the Nashville net, but Hutton stuck his glove into the path of the shot. The puck fell out of the glove and trickled across the goal line, tying the game 1-1 at 13:00 of the second.
“I got caught reaching for a puck that moved on me,” Hutton said. “A bad break.”
As time wound down in the second, Hutton gave up another one that he should have had. This time Jaromir Jagr’s wrist shot hit him in the chest and dribbled into the net.
“Every goal I want back, eh?” Hutton said. “It’s one of those things. That’s my job.”
In the third period, the Devils packed it in tightly in their defensive zone, giving the Predators little to look at as they tried to get the equalizer. As minutes turned to seconds, Hutton was pulled for an extra attacker.
With just 10.8 ticks left on the clock, the puck squirted to David Legwand on the right side. He made no mistake, blasting a shot into a virtually open net behind Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.
“Carter, he knows what happened there and we wanted to pick it up for him,” Legwand said. “It took a little while there. It took 19 minutes and something seconds.”
Just 1:20 into overtime, New Jersey’s Michael Ryder had a clear breakaway and the potential game-winner on his stick. He shifted forehand to backhand and was denied by Hutton, keeping the Predators in the game.
“I know Ryder is a pretty good shooter, so coming in, obviously being ready for him to shoot,” Hutton said. “The puck was kind of rolling on him, so I didn’t really think he had much. I was able to read his fake and just try to be patient and get across and I was able to come up with the save.”
Just nine seconds after that save, Predators captain Shea Weber buried the game winner.
“There was a couple of tough ones, but he made the save there in overtime on a breakaway,” Weber said of Hutton. “Without that, we are only getting one point.”
Nashville’s bench boss was proud of Hutton’s teammates picking him up in a game they very well could have lost.“The group today said, ‘Hey, we gotta bail a guy out here,’ and I thought we played excellent,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said.
Hutton is now 6-1 since that tough game in Carolina and is giving the Predators a chance to hang in the playoff race.