Luckily for the Boston Bruins, their recent shootout woes won't affect them in the playoffs. Their tendency to give up goals late in the third period to lead to these shootouts might affect them starting next week.
Evander Kane scored the tying goal with 1:57 left in the third period, and former Bruins draft pick goalie Michael Hutchinson stopped all three shots in the shootout, as the Winnipeg Jets bested the Bruins 2-1 on Thursday night. Hutchinson, making his second career NHL start, made 32 saves to notch his first career victory in the home finale for the Jets.
Chad Johnson had 36 saves for the Bruins, who also gave up a goal with under two minutes to play in an eventual shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. Johnson is 11-0-3 in his last 14 starts, as he has not lost a game in regulation since 2013.
Brad Marchand scored the lone goal for Boston but was stopped in the third round of the shootout to end the game. Reilly Smith and Ryan Spooner were also denied by Hutchinson, who was the Bruins' third-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Bryan Little scored the only goal in the shootout for Winnipeg, with Olli Jokinen being stopped by Johnson in the second round.
It looked as if the Bruins were going to escape Canada with an unimpressive 1-0 win until the combination of Kane and another former Bruin Blake Wheeler struck for an explosive goal to tie the game at 1-1. Wheeler took the puck straight up the middle of the ice, starting in his own end and accelerating through the Boston defense into the offensive zone. Wheeler dropped the puck off to Kane and then cleared out a path for him to fire a quick blast by Johnson for the game-tying goal. The assist adds to Wheeler's career year in Winnipeg, as he has 27 goals and 41 assists on the season, placing him in the top 20 in the league in points scored.
Marchand's goal was the result of a great pass into the Jets' end by linemate Reilly Smith. Smith and Marchand started a breakout, with Smith taking the puck at center ice and making what seemed to be a simple dump-in to the offensive end. Marchand was able to work his way around a Jets defender, and the puck took a great bounce of the end boards right onto his awaiting stick. Marchand made a quick move from his forehand to his backhand in front of Hutchinson and put the puck into the back of the net for his 24th goal of the year. David Krejci had the other assist on the play, giving him 50 assists on the season.
Both teams made several lineup changes prior to the game, with the Bruins resting both Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Chris Kelly also missed the game due to a back injury, but Kelly should be ready to go when the playoffs start next week. Winnipeg was missing nine regulars in their starting lineup, including captain Andrew Ladd.
The Bruins have two games remaining and sit three points ahead of Anaheim for the Presidents' Cup, given to the team with the most points in the regular season. The B's will host Buffalo on Saturday afternoon in their home finale before traveling to New Jersey to face the Devils on Sunday. The Bruins will then face the second Eastern Conference Wildcard team in the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia, Detroit, and Columbus are the three potential opponents for Boston, with each team already clinching a playoff berth. The three teams all have 91 points with two games remaining.