GLENDALE, Arizona – Anton Khudobin loves to win hockey games.
The Bruins backup goalie loves when his team comes out as a winner, and he’s even more enthused when it’s him at the heart of a winning effort with a good performance between the pipes. So Khudobin was overjoyed after helping lead the Bruins to a 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes in his first start of the season.
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While it’s true that Khudobin wasn’t severely tested in a game that the Bruins dominated from the second period through the final horn, it was still a win for a goalie that didn’t get his second ‘W’ of last season until very late in the year. So the 31-year-older Russian netminder wasn’t about to mince words when it came to the importance of winning to him.
“The ‘W’ is always great. No matter what the score, whether it’s 8-6 or 9-7. If you win then you win. Nobody talks about losers. Everybody talks about winners, right?” said Khudobin. “If you win, then you’re on the horse, and if you don’t then you’re under it. It’s great to get one at the start of the season, and so now hopefully it’s not going to roll like it did last year.”
Khudobin was likely at his best early in stopping 9-of-10 shots in the first period when it was still a hotly contested hockey game. That solid performance early allowed the Bruins to shake off the cobwebs and get into the rhythm of their game, and that began happening with much more snap and precision starting in the second period.
The plan all along was for Khudobin to get one of the two back-to-back games this weekend, but there was never any certainty it was going to be Arizona until Bruce Cassidy made that call at the end of this week. Clearly it was the right call and now sets things up for Tuukka Rask to answer with his own strong performance in Vegas on Sunday night, and get the Bruins goaltending picture up where it should be all season.
“He did his job and that’s what we want. He gave us a chance to win,” said Cassidy. “He got some run support tonight, but he doesn’t know that after the first period…so good for him. He battled and he always does. We needed it.”
Khudobin battled, he managed to stay on his horse and he got the all-important win for his Bruins. It sounds like a pretty solid all-around night for a backup goalie that the Bruins are going to need to play like that for 20-25 games this season while supporting starter Tuukka Rask.