BOSTON -- It took nearly two months of hockey and seven tries, but the Bruins finally got a win from one of their backup goaltenders.
Anton Khudobin enjoyed his best game of the season while stopping 29 shots and holding things together for a Bruins team that finally broke through in the third period en route to a 2-1 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden. Needless to say the affable Khudobin was happy to finish in the winner’s circle for the first time this season.
“It always feels awesome. Whenever you get the W it’s always…nothing can be better,” said Khudobin, who improved to 1-3-0 on the season. “I just do my job and so, that’s pretty much it. I’m happy that we got the ‘W.’
It certainly didn’t look optimal for Khudobin or the Black and Gold after the Hurricanes took a slim 1-0 lead in the second period, and the Bruins looked like their offense was once again going to fall short.
Instead the Bruins scratched for a goal late in the third outshooting the Hurricanes by a 12-9 margin, and Khudobin was perfect turning away 11 shots in the third period and overtime with exactly zero margin for error. He stopped Jeff Skinner on a three-on-none breakaway in the second period ahead of Noah Hanifin’s goal for the Hurricanes, and then he stopped Skinner again in overtime on a breakaway with two points hanging in the balance.
That doesn’t even mention the shootout where Khudobin stood tall again while watching Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak score to ice the game for the Black and Gold.
“[He was] very good. [Khudobin] deserves a lot of accolades tonight, the way he played and the way he responded after being out such a long time. I think the fact that he went to Providence and played some games there really helped him get back on track,” said Julien. “Tonight he showed that he was ready to play. He made some big plays for us, you know, solid in the shootout.
“You couldn’t ask more from him. There’s no doubt that there was a lot of confidence that grew in that dressing room by watching his play and knowing that we have two goaltenders that can play extremely well for us.”
It’s a confidence that understandably wavered when the B’s backup goalies went a combined 0-6-0 to start the season with Khudobin, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre all failed to lead the Black and Gold to a victory. That has changed now with the Bruins stealing a game from Carolina after sleepwalking through the first 40 minutes, and knowing that their goaltender was the biggest difference between winning and losing.
“He was awesome tonight. He was our number one star for sure. I think they had two or three breakaways that he shut the door on. I think they had a four-on- zero too. He shut the door on everything,” said Riley Nash. “I thought he was fantastic. I think that was his first win of the year too. So, it’s nice to get that monkey off his back and hopefully just get it rolling now.”
It wasn’t quite a Jimmy Hayes-sized monkey on Khudobin’s back to be sure, but nonetheless there is a renewed sense of confidence after a dominant, winning performance that conjures up memories of just how effective Rask and Khudobin were as a Bruins tandem just a few years ago.