Goalie nods: Blues reward Hutton, who has ‘competed like heck’

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Jake Allen has been a workhorse and was banged up prior to the holiday break. He’s probably due for a rest. But Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t about to use that as his logic for starting backup Carter Hutton tonight against the Flyers.

“I just feel like I want to reward a guy that … he’s competed like heck, he’s played really well in his last game,” Hitchcock said, per KSDK. “I feel like I want to reward that.

“We know that Jake (Allen’s) got a lot of games in him, this gives him a chance to reset the dial for three practices in a row and then get ready to play on the 30th and the 2nd.”

Hutton’s reward is just his fourth start in the last 21 games, and first since a 3-2 OT loss to the Oilers on Dec. 19. The 31-year-old performed reasonably well that night — stopping 32 of 35 shots for a .914 save percentage — in what, as Hitchcock alluded to, was one of his better outings of the year. Hutton has struggled since coming over from Nashville in free agency, posting a 2-4-2 record with a 2.91 GAA and .893 save percentage.

For the Flyers, Steve Mason gets the nod.

Elsewhere…

Roberto Luongo, who allowed three goals on 39 shots in a shootout loss to Detroit last Friday, goes for Florida. He’ll be up against Frederik Andersen, who starts the first of a back-to-back for the Leafs.

— Carolina will continue to ride Cam Ward when it takes on Pittsburgh tonight. No word yet on a Pens starter, though Marc-Andre Fleury did play last night against New Jersey.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s been up-and-down since taking over starting duties from the injured Ben Bishop, goes for the Bolts. The visiting Habs will start Carey Price, who hasn’t played since last Thursday.

— A veteran affair in Vancouver, as 36-year-old Ryan Miller takes on 34-year-old Peter Budaj.

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