The Toronto Maple Leafs did it again, pulling off a win on Saturday that stretched their point streak to 10 games. The Maple Leafs knocked off the New York Islanders by a final score of 3-0, with backup goalie Michael Hutchinson snagging the shutout.
We talked just a little while ago about the necessity of Hutchinson to pick up wins and our man from Barrie has done just that, pulling off three victories since our blog post. Coincidence? Most likely.
But it’s also likely down to how the 29-year-old and his team have come together over this stretch. Hutchinson has wins over Detroit and New Jersey, too, but it’s the shutout over the Islanders that remains most impressive. He made 33 saves.
“It was one of those games where during the anthems I felt really calm and relaxed,” said Hutchinson. “The game started off and their very first shot was in from the point with quite a bit of traffic and I was able to find the lane right away and make a pretty easy save on my feet.”
That first shot was a Scott Mayfield corker some 22 seconds in, but Hutchinson did the job and then some.
Toronto has won nine of their last 10 games and starter Frederik Andersen may get the lion’s share of the credit for going 6-0-1. Head coach Sheldon Keefe has seen fit to generate some confidence in his backup as well, though, and that’s helped turn Hutchinson’s season – and possibly his career – right around.
“It’s kind of resetting and knowing you can’t change anything that happened earlier in the season,” said Hutchinson. “I’ve been able to come to the rink positive every single day. Even when I’m not playing, enjoying the wins, enjoying the successes that other guys are having.”
Earlier in the season, Hutchinson piled up six losses and a .876 save percentage. Now, he’s got three wins to add to the list and a .896 save percentage. Things are swinging the other direction and the coach’s vote of confidence could entirely right the ship, giving the Maple Leafs a quantifiable backup netminder once more.
Toronto is 15-4-1 under Sheldon Keefe and on Saturday you could see why. The team was adaptable and switched things up to play to New York’s range and style. They were patient and punched holes where there were none. Pierre Engvall, Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman had the goals, even while the Islanders had the edge in shots, hits and blocks.
Toronto didn’t manage a power play and allowed the loyal opposition just one.
And when New York did manage to burst through, Hutchinson was waiting. The backup. The one with a three-game winning streak.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston