TORONTO – The Bruins fell in overtime after failing to hold a tight one-goal lead at the end of the third period, but it was no reflection on the goaltender.
Anton Khudobin hadn’t played in more than two weeks because of a lower-body injury, but came back with minimal rust and stopped 30-of-33 shots in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs. The overtime loss puts Khudobin at 3-0-2 in five starts on the season, and the Bruins veteran backup hasn’t yet lost in regulation after not securing his second win of last season until February.
While that’s something to be proud of given how important a backup goalie’s effectiveness is to the overall success of a hockey team, Khudobin can’t help but be disappointed when the Bruins are on the losing end of one of his appearances.
“It’s tough to say because it was a tough loss, but at least we got the point,” said Khudobin. “Overall I thought we played pretty well. We did a lot of good things. Maybe we didn’t score enough or maybe I didn’t stop enough [pucks]…I don’t know. But overall I thought we played pretty well; we just didn’t get rewarded.
“There is always something we can fix in this game, so we’re going to continue to work. But we’re moving forward.”
All three Toronto goals on Friday night were from Leafs players that were essentially uncovered in front of the net: A James van Riemsdyk power play goal in the second period, a JVR redirect in the last minute of the third period with Toronto employing an extra attacker for the pulled goalie and an odd-man rush in 3-on-3 overtime after Mitch Marner had stripped David Pastrnak of the puck at the offensive blue line.
Khudobin made some excellent saves throughout the nip-and-tuck game including a first period stop on Nazem Kadri in the first period, and a third period save on Dominic Moore trying to rush the net prior to the eventual tying goal.
“It was another strong game,” said Bruce Cassidy of Khudobin, who is actually tied for 19th in the NHL with his .923 save percentage on the season. “Listen, the guy has been really good for us. He seems like he’s tightening up his game as we’ve gone along too. It seemed like he had some rebound issues early [in the season], but he’s really tightened those up.
“He has better control. Give him credit against a good offensive team, and [his teammates] played fairly well in front of him. Give him a lot of credit.”
Khudobin will get as much credit as one can get in a game where his hockey team coughed up a one-goal lead late in the game, but the hope now is that Tuukka Rask can pick up the slack on Saturday vs. the Leafs in the second half of the home-and-home series.