Talking points: Patrice Bergeron gives Bruins breathing room
Anton Khudobin was at his best at the beginning and end of a stellar 41-save performance against the Chicago Blackhawks where the Bruins needed some strong play between the pipes. The two goals were both not really the fault of the B’s backup, though it did look like he was expecting a whistle on the Artemi Panarin goal that rocketed into the net off the body of Richard Panik crumpled up inside the Boston net. The other Chicago goal was a wide open Jordin Tootoo in front on busted D-zone coverage, so no fault on the affable Russian goalie. He was great making 16 saves in the first when it was just a 1-0 game, and then in the third when he stopped 15 shots as Chicago desperately threw everything at the net. Khudobin is now 6-0-0 in his last six starts after starting the season 1-5-1 for the Bruins, and should still be considered a hot hand if he doesn’t play another game for the B’s this season.
It’s a literal black eye for Hawks Hart Trophy candidate Patrick Kane, who took a puck to the face during pregame warm-ups and needed a few stitches prior to puck drop before suiting up for the Blackhawks. But Kane sucked it up and played in a game that meant very little for Chicago after clinching home ice in the Western Conference. Kane was kept off the scoreboard by the Bruins in his 22 minutes of ice time, but did finish with five shots on net and eight shot attempts along with a couple of takeaways for a Blackhawks team that played catch-up hockey all Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins had built up a 1-0 lead on the Blackhawks, but Chicago began really going into attack mode at the end of the first period. Anton Khudobin stopped a point shot/rebound combo from Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa moving post-to-post, and then stoned Artemi Panarin on a point blank chance after David Krejci couldn’t connect with Kevan Miller on a pass in front of the net. Those huge saves were part of a Herculean first period for Khudobin, and right afterward Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston some breathing room. The B’s worked comfortably with that cushion for a long stretch and never buckled after holding strong at the end of the first.
Patrice Bergeron always gets amped up for these head-to-head matchups with Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks, and today is no exception to that despite the sleepy Sunday morning setting. Bergeron finished with a goal and nine shot attempts in 21:32 of ice time along with a 21-of-31 performance in the face-off circle. Bergeron won 9-of-10 draws in the third period when nearly all of them seemed to be important D-zone face-offs in a tight game where the Blackhawks were charging at them. The goal was a top corner nipper shot off a pure chemistry feed from Brad Marchand, and founded out a great day at both ends for No. 37. Not too shabby.
BY THE NUMBERS:
20:55 – He didn’t end up on the score sheet, but David Backes played large with three shots in the first period that were legit scoring chances and then threw his body around for five hits in a playoff-style performance.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“I was very nervous a little bit at the start with a back-to-back, no pregame skate and I hadn’t played in a week. But the guys did a hell of a job, they boxed and I was able to see the puck. I got relaxed afterward.” –Anton Khudobin, to reporters about his 41-save gem against the Blackhawks.