One brilliant period was all the St. John's IceCaps needed.
Kael Mouillierat scored in the first period and the IceCaps held on to beat the Albany Devils 1-0 on Wednesday at Mile One Centre and take a 2-1 lead in the American Hockey League's best-of-five playoff series.
Michael Hutchinson finished with 24 saves for the shutout but saved most of his work for the later stretches of the game. The IceCaps opened the game with an offensive surge, outshooting the Devils 17-6 in the first period and 13-8 in the second.
Hutchinson said facing fewer shots than usual early on can make it hard on a goalie, but was an encouraging sign for the team.
'Phenomenal first period'
"It gives you confidence that your guys are coming out flying and playing well," he said. "You just have to wait and be patient. You can't try to make saves before the shots get there. The biggest mistake in games like that is getting a little too antsy and forcing things. We played a phenomenal first period."
Mouillierat scored the lone goal of the game when he surged forward to catch an outlet pass from Zach Redmond on a breakaway.
Mouillierat faked to move the puck forehand and then quickly brought it backhand before releasing high at the 17:50 mark of the first.
"We came out with good energy," said IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge. "We accomplished one of the things we wanted, to score the first goal and let our crowd feed off that and build the momentum in the building. That was key."
Hutchinson credited the team in front of him for his shutout.
"It was a huge team effort on the shutout tonight," he said. "We blocked a lot of shots, especially in the last little bit (of the game) and the penalty kill. It was a huge to get a shutout and the win. It doesn't matter if it's a 7-6 win or a shutout at this time of year."
High glove save
Hutchinson kept the IceCaps ahead with a high glove save on a wide-open opportunity in front for Reid Boucher with six minutes left to play.
Keith Kinkaid stopped 34 shots for the Devils.
Both teams were blanked on the power play — the IceCaps were 0 for 6 and the Devils went 0 for 3.
"The one unit generated a lot of scoring chances but the other unit looked a little bit out of sync," said McCambridge. "We made an adjustment to move a couple pieces around in the third period but it's still not exactly where we want it. Some nights it is clicking for you and some nights it (is not)."