It wasn’t the hardest shutout Andrey Makarov has ever earned, but it was one of the more memorable ones.
Makarov stopped all 27 shots he faced as the Saskatoon Blades downed the Moose Jaw Warriors 5-0 Sunday at the Credit Union Centre.
The shutout was the seventh of Makarov’s career, tying him with Braden Holtby for most in Blades history.
“The guys scored five goals, so I’m supposed to stop everything,” said Makarov, who tied Edmonton’s Tristan Jarry and Portland’s Mac Carruth for the WHL lead this season with five.
“I’ll probably try to beat the record in the next couple of games. I don’t know.”
The 19-year-old Russian was mostly untested until the third period as the Blades (2421-0-3) built up a 4-0 advantage over the Warriors (16-26-3-6).
Makarov got some help from the crossbar on a shot from Josh Uhrich and then made two left pad saves on Sam Fioretti.
Instead, it was Warriors netminder Justin Paulic who faced the majority of the challenging scoring chances as the Blades held a 48-27 advantage on the shot clock.
“I think we make it pretty easy on (Makarov) whenever he gets a shutout,” Blades overage right-winger Josh Nicholls said.
“Obviously we played a pretty smart game and we managed it really well. If we can carry this kind of gameplay over to the second half, we should be putting ourselves in a good position come playoffs,” Nicholls added.
Blades defenceman Darren Dietz opened the scoring 16: 02 into the first period on a power play. It was his 12th goal of the season and ninth with the man advantage, tops among all WHL blue-liners.
The goal was also Dietz’s 100th WHL point.
The Blades then broke the game open with three goals in the second period as Collin Valcourt, Matej Stransky and Lukas Sutter found the back of the net.
It was Sutter’s fifth straight game with a goal, giving him 10 on the season.
Erik Benoit converted a pass from Matt Revel 7: 29 into the third and the Blades then preserved the historic victory for their goalie.
“Holtby was a great competitor for this organization for many years,” Blades head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken said. “Obviously Andrey is an elite goaltender, not only in this league but around the world in his age group. It’s nice to see him get rewarded tonight with the shutout.”
“It’s a big accomplishment,” added Nicholls, a rookie during Holtby’s final season in Saskatoon in 200809. “Obviously Braden was a great goalie for us here. Andrey has been a great one too. It’s a really cool thing for him.”
Although Blades athletic trainer Steve Hildebrand didn’t perform his customary rendition of the Russian national anthem after this shutout – “He’s probably forgetting about me,” Ma-karov said, jokingly. “I was crying in the locker-room.” – the victory held extra significance for the netminder.
The Blades beat the Warriors 5-4 on Jan. 18, but not before Makarov surrendered two weak goals late in the third. He faced the same number of shots Sunday, but the Blades’ victory was certainly more convincing.
“We remember that game. We were winning 5-2 and they come back almost that game,” Makarov said. “We can’t do that again.
“We just score more goals and I just stop more pucks.”
SP’S 3 STARS
1. Saskatoon Blades G Andrey Makarov – Made a couple tough saves in order to tie franchise record for shutouts.
2. Saskatoon Blades RW Collin Valcourt – A goal and an assist for the trade-deadline acquisition.
3. Saskatoon Blades D Darren Dietz – His first-period marker stood as the winner. The turning point Three second-period goals paced the Blades to an easy victory.
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