It has been a streaky season for Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton.
After winning his first six games of the season, Hutton went into such a severe slump that he lost his starting job to Linus Ullmark.
But with Ullmark expected to miss most of the month with a right leg injury, Hutton is back in the Buffalo net.
He snapped an 0-8-4 skid in a 2-1 overtime victory against visiting Columbus on Saturday, his first triumph since Oct. 22.
Hutton and the Sabres (23-22-7) will look to make it two wins in a row when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche (28-16-6) on Tuesday night.
After Jack Eichel scored the winner in overtime, the Sabres mobbed Hutton at the other end of the ice.
“Yeah, it’s nice. It’s obviously a good thing,” Hutton told reporters afterward. “This is a team sport here and it’s good to know that you’re well-liked, the guys appreciate what I put into this, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak, was effusive in his praise for his goalie.
“Carter getting the win is really secondary to the way he’s prepared himself for this situation happening,” Krueger said. “… I told you a few weeks ago that there was a lot of extra work going on with (assistant coach) Mike Bales. Off ice, on ice, all kinds of work.
“Nobody gave up on Carter and Carter didn’t give up on Carter. So, we’re not surprised but we’re so pleased for him to see him have performances like this when the team desperately needed it. Good on him, he’s such a character in this group and he’s a real leader and a voice all the time whether he’s starting or not. So, of course you’re pleased with him and we need to just build on this.”
The victory came against a Blue Jackets team that had won six straight and had gone 16-2-4 over its previous 22 games.
“It’s a big win for the group,” said Eichel, who already has a career-high 31 goals this season. “It was good to see us find a way to get a win.”
The Avalanche returned from the All-Star break with a 6-3 loss Saturday in Philadelphia in the opener of a five-game trip.
Andre Burakovsky and Nikita Zadorov each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who lost for the first time in four games.
“Think we had a really good first period, could have been up 3-0 early, had some chances,” Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen said. “Even in the second, created a lot. … Don’t think we had a horrible game. We had a chance to win. I think we played better than them, but we just couldn’t find the win.”
Cale Makar has 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists), which ties the most in a season by an Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques rookie defenseman. Bruce Bell had 37 points for the Nordiques in 1984-85.
“He’s had a huge impact,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “You watch the minutes he plays, who he plays with, who he plays against. We expect him to do a lot, and he’s learning on the go and he’s doing a really nice job.”
–Field Level Media