TORONTO (AP) Just over a week ago, Michael Hutchinson was battling to get back in the NHL. Now, he’s filling a key need for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hutchinson stopped 28 shots for his first shutout in more than two years, Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists, and the Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 Saturday night.
Hutchinson was playing for Springfield of the AHL when he was acquired from Florida last weekend with Toronto starter Frederik Anderson (groin) and backup Garret Sparks (concussion) still sidelined.
”It’s hard to imagine,” Hutchinson said of how much his life changed in only eight days. ”Being in Springfield, you don’t know where your season’s going and how things are going to turn out.
”You’re just kind of grinding away (in the minors). … Things change really quick in pro hockey.”
In his second consecutive start for the team he cheered for growing up in nearby Barrie, Ontario, Hutchinson got his fourth career shutout and the first since Oct. 28, 2016, when he was with Winnipeg.
”Definitely looking forward to tonight (and) getting a chance to take a step back and really enjoy this moment.” He added.
Andersen and Sparks were both in Toronto’s locker-room to congratulate Hutchinson before their new teammate had time to peel off his gear that still includes Florida’s colors.
”Goalies tend to bond pretty quick,” Hutchinson said.
John Tavares, Andreas Johnsson, Trevor Moore and Igor Ozhiganov also scored as the Maple Leafs snapped a two-game skid that followed a five-game winning streak.
”We played pretty well,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. ”When we put our work in front of our skill we’ve got a chance to have success.”
Jacob Markstrom stopped 29 shots for Vancouver, which was shut out for the third time in its last four games.
”We looked tired,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. ”That’s not a team that you really want to play tired against.”
The Canucks, playing for the third time in four nights, were without star rookie Elias Pettersson after the rookie injured his right knee in Thursday night’s 2-0 loss at Montreal. Green said the 20-year-old, who leads the Canucks and all NHL rookies with 42 points, is expected to miss at least a week with a slight sprain to his medial collateral ligament.
Toronto opened the scoring at 8:54 of the first period when Tavares outmuscled Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson in front to tip home his 27th goal of the season off Morgan Rielly’s point shot. The chance came seconds after Mitch Marner, who had scored nine goals in his last eight outings, missed the net on a great chance from the slot.
The Maple Leafs made it 2-0 with 5 1/2 minutes left on Moore’s first in the NHL in his fifth game. The speedy winger blew past Derrick Pouliot before beating Markstrom between the pads.
”It was surreal,” the 23-year-old Moore said. ”I got chills.”
Bo Horvat had Vancouver’s only two quality opportunities of the period, but Hutchinson was there to stop him on a partial breakaway and another shot late on a Canucks power play.
Hutchinson entered the night 3-1-0 with a .935 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average in four career starts against Vancouver with Winnipeg between 2013 and 2018, and needed to be sharp in the second.
He took two shots off the mask early in the period before making a nice stop on Jay Beagle’s redirection.
Markstrom, who was 8-1-0 in December to get Vancouver back into the playoff hunt, kept his team within two when he stopped Kasperi Kapanen and Ozhiganov off the rush before Patrick Marleau’s third attempt was deflected out of play.
Matthews then put things out of reach at 4:45 of the third on a wraparound for his 20th, and first in six games. The goal was also worth $212,500 as part of the bonus structure of his entry-level contract.
Johnsson made it 4-0 with his ninth, firing upstairs short-side on Markstrom after coming out from behind the Vancouver net at 11:55.
Ozhiganov capped the scoring with his second with 5:11 left.
NOTES: Hutchinson played 102 games with Winnipeg before suiting up for four this season as a member of the Panthers prior to the deal as Toronto searched for goaltending depth. … Andersen said after Friday’s practice, his first full session since Dec. 27, that he’s close to a return. … Marleau played the 1,616th game of his career to pass Larry Murphy and move into sole possession for ninth all-time in NHL history. … Marner played his 200th game.
Canucks: Host Arizona on Thursday night to open a stretch of six straight at home over 14 days.
Maple Leafs: Host Nashville on Monday night.
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