Carter Hutton lost a bid for his second shutout in the last three games with 67 seconds to play as the Blues won 3-1 over Montreal on Tuesday night. (Scott Rovak/St. Louis Blues)

By Rob Rains

There is no controversy, but the Blues could have a goalie problem.

After another big game from Carter Hutton on Tuesday night, a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Scottrade Center, the problem for coach Mike Yeo is this: How does he not continue to play Hutton, and what does he do with Jake Allen?

Hutton made his sixth consecutive start on Tuesday night, and is now 5-1 over that stretch. He lost his bid for his second shutout in the last three games with just 67 seconds left in the game, when the Canadiens scored during a 6-on-4 power play.

Over those three games, Hutton has stopped 94 of 96 shots.

“It’s a mixture of confidence and desire to stay in there,” Yeo said. “He’s doing a great job.

“It’s not like he’s just turned it on all of a sudden. He’s had a fantastic year and that’s what earned him the opportunity to get some more starts. He was prepared for the opportunity that he’s got and he’s taken advantage of it.”

The Blues turned to Hutton in late December while Allen, their admitted number one goalie, was in the midst of a slump that has seen him go 1-8 over his last nine starts.Since Dec. 30, Hutton has started nine of the Blues last 11 games, going 7-1-1.

“I think I catch everybody off guard because I play a few more times a week now than I used to,” Hutton said. “I was playing well once every two weeks. I think I’m the same goalie, I’m just playing more.”

Hutton has a 1.71 goals against average this season with a 13-4-1 record.
Allen has not started a game since Jan. 9 and since Dec. 12 has won only one game, on Dec. 23 in Vancouver.

“We don’t have a long term plan,” Yeo said about his two goalies. “We have a plan for the next week or so, but there’s no question we’d like to get Jake back in there. We saw what Jake has done for us in the past, we saw what he did last year in the playoffs. We know the level he can get to and the level he can play at. All year long we’ve seen a new level from Carter and we know what level he can play at too. We’re in a good spot there.”

Hutton, who has become good friends with Allen during their two years as teammates, tries to downplay the competition between them even though he makes no secret that he wants to play.

“It’s the business we live in, it’s a competitive business,” Hutton said. “I’m on the wrong side of the hill, I’m 32, so when you get a chance to play some games you have to play well. There’s some young guys coming.

“We both want to play but there’s no reason we can’t be great friends and great teammates and both push each other. That’s going to be the ultimate success for this team, having both guys doing well.”

It’s likely Allen will get the start in one of the two games on the Blues next road trip, either Thursday night in Boston or Saturday night in Buffalo.

After giving up the first 11 shots of the game, the Blues finally got untracked late in the first period and took a 1-0 lead 4:38 into the second period on Ivan Barbashev’s second goal in 23 games this season. He picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, then beat Carey Price with a wrist shot.

Hutton protected that lead until Patrik Berglund’s power-play goal at 5:14 of the third period increased the lead to 2-0. He scored off the rebound of a shot by Tage Thompson while the Canadiens were serving a penalty for having too many men on the ice.

A five-minute boarding penalty against Colton Parayko with 2:34 to go put the Canadiens on the power play and they pulled Price, but the Blues got a quick empty-net goal from Alexander Steen to make it a 3-0 game,

The Canadiens kept Price off the ice and finally scored the late goal to deny Hutton the shutout. The Blues challenged the goal because of goalie interference, even though they knew they had little chance to reverse the call.

“We’ll take the win any day, “ Hutton said. “The guys were apologizing for it, but it’s no big deal. You just want to win. If we win 8-7 I don’t care. It’s just about winning hockey games.”