Khudobin: 'Hopefully I get the monkey off my back' after win

Khudobin: 'Hopefully I get the monkey off my back' after win

BOSTON – Anton Khudobin has certainly experienced his share of struggles in his second stint with the Boston Bruins.

But he hasn’t lost his trademark sense of humor even if his performance to date hasn’t been up to snuff between the pipes.

“Let’s be funny and sarcastic,” said Khudobin, after a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. “Hopefully I’m going to get the third win sooner than the second [win].”


That’s because Khudobin improved his record to 2-5-1 on the season while making 29 saves in his first appearance with the Bruins since getting busted down to the AHL after his Dec. 23 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. It wasn’t perfect as he surrendered a goal to Alex Burrows with just 0.6 seconds to go in the second period and gave up three goals overall, but he also hung in there while the Bruins defense was allowing some pretty good scoring chances all around him.

All that mattered for Khudobin was making certain he allowed fewer goals than the Bruins scored to get the desired result, and making sure he got the job done in the first night of back-to-back games with Tuukka Rask earmarked for Sunday's big showdown with the Montreal Canadiens. As the first of six sets of back-to-back games to finish out the season, the Bruins are going to need Khudobin to start getting on a roll and playing like he did on Saturday afternoon.

“[Khudobin had a] very strong game. Certainly gave us a chance to win, we had a number of breakdowns in front of him that led to quality chances that he was there to make the save on,” said interim Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “So I’m very happy for him, he’s worked hard on his game. We scored a goal late for him to get the win. I think it’s a bit of a monkey off his back and hopefully he can build on it going forward.”

The numbers still aren’t anything to write home about for the 30-year-old Khudobin, and they might not be for the rest of the season given a .888 save percentage and 3.05 goals against average in nine appearances thus far. Those struggles forced Khudobin down to the AHL to get his game together, and forced Tuukka Rask (.882 save percentage last month) into a playing time burden that saw his numbers dive in January with such a heavy workload.

But at least the Bruins finally got a second win from their backup netminders in 18 appearances for Khudobin, Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban this season, and they’ve at least temporarily quieted some of the fingers pointed at them as the biggest single thing afflicting the Black and Gold this season.

Something as simple as evening the 2-10-2 record for the backups this season would add eight points to Boston’s season ledger, and would actually pull them into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic Division. That was apparent when Bruins President Cam Neely went on with Felger and Mazz earlier this week on 98.5 the Sports Hub, and repeatedly mentioned the backup goalies as one of the big reasons for the team’s underachievement this season.

Khudobin sounded like he had heard those words, and perhaps they even served as motivation in Saturday’s winning matinee vs. Vancouver.

“It’s always important. We have to get up in the standings too. That’s really important in back-to- backs, hopefully I get the monkey off my back. Like I said, [I’ve got to] keep going, kind of play whatever, back-to- back or whatever,” said Khudobin. “Just keep winning and maybe there wouldn’t be that much talk about the goalies not winning the games.

“Personally, I want to win the games. Losing sucks. That’s the way I am, and of course if you’re winning, it helps your team and it helps to feel good.”

Khudobin is hoping that getting off the losing hook on Saturday will lead to a lot more feeling good in the near future for him as a goalie, and for a Bruins team that desperately needs a quick in the backup goalie 

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

AP Photo

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

DALLAS - David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

TALKING POINTS: B's resiliency on full display vs Stars

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card.

Dallas led 2-0 on a first-period goal by Esa Lindell and Jamie Benn's short-handed score late in the second.

In the third, Marchand tipped in a shot by Pastrnak before Schaller scored on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves.

Lindell scored 2:26 into the game. Jason Dickinson tried to deflect a shot from the right point into the net but the puck went wide right. Curtis McKenzie picked it up behind the goal line and passed to Lindell high in the left faceoff circle. His wrist shot went in off Rask's right arm.

Benn missed two good scoring opportunities early in the second period, but connected at 19:22. He took a pass from Tyler Seguin at the Dallas blue line and had a breakaway when Matt Grzelcyk fell down. Benn slid a backhand under Rask.