SUNRISE, Fla. — Carter Hutton doesn’t get to be in the net that often but he made the most of his opportunity.
The Predators backup goaltender, playing in just his ninth game in place of starter Pekka Rinne, made 22 saves and Calle Jarnkrok scored twice to lead Nashville to a 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
“Whenever they give me starts, I play,” said Hutton, who ran his record to 6-2-1 and picked up his second shutout. “Anything I can do to help our team win. I understand my role. At the same time, just any way I can contribute is what I try to do.”
The worst moment for Hutton was when he cleared the puck at the end of the second period and it struck a young female fan.
“Obviously you feel bad,” he said. “At first, I didn’t even realize. All I’m trying to do is make sure I get glass on it so it’s not a penalty and it hits a little kid.”
He gave one of his sticks to the girl.
“I’m sure at that point, they probably wanted to break the stick. It was the least I could do.”
Hutton, who last played in a 2-1 win over Calgary on Jan. 27, was at his best when he made a stop on Jonathan Huberdeau‘s shot in tight off a pass from Brent Regner on a two-on-one in the second.
“No question, he’s really looked good in there,” said Nashville Predator head coach Peter Laviolette. “He’s done a good job.”
Florida dropped the first two games of its six-game homestand, which it continues Monday against Pittsburgh.
Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 23 saves in his second straight loss. Both teams were coming off losses Friday night.
“We had a lot of problems,” said Florida coach Gerard Gallant, who received a game misconduct late in the game and had to leave the bench. “We weren’t too good at all tonight. We took it on the chin and didn’t play well.”
The game started off poorly again for Luongo, just like the night before against St. Louis when he was replaced. However, his troubles Saturday in part came from poor defensive coverage and fine shooting by Nashville.
Jarnkrok scored his 10th goal after taking a pass from Neal, slicing through the right circle and beating Luongo high glove at 6:18 of the first period. He later scored short-handed on a tap-in at 13:28.
“It was a big win for us with a real tough loss yesterday against Tampa Bay. We wanted to end the road trip the right way,” said Jarnkrok, who also had a two-goal game against Winnipeg on Nov. 14.
Following a turnover by Florida’s defence behind the net, Salomaki fired another high shot past Luongo for his third goal at 8:24 and a 2-0 lead. Neal added to the advantage in the second when he tapped in a deflection by Johansen off Ribeiro’s shot at 10:24.
Weber one-timed a pass from Josi for a power-play goal at 7:59 of the third
Florida’s Quinton Howden left the game after taking a hard shoulder shot by Bitetto in front of Florida’s bench.
The speedy forward did not return and was announced as out with an upper-body injury.
“I’m sure something will happen after that hit,” Gallant said. “I’m sure. I looked at it, everybody looked at, so we’ll see. They’re trying to clean up head shots; if that’s not a head shot, I don’t know what is.”
NOTES: Neal’s goal against Tampa Bay on Friday gave him at least 20 for eight straight seasons. He scored his 21st Saturday night. Florida F Jaromir Jagr scored 20 or more in his first 17 seasons (1990-2008). … Nashville netminders entered the night last in save percentage at .898. … Florida D Brian Campbell has never missed a game since joining the club for the 2011-12 season and played in his 350th straight regular-season contest. … Panthers F Nick Bjugstad played in his 200th career game. … F John McFarland made his NHL debut for Florida.