NASHVILLE -- The big question going into Monday night’s showdown in Nashville was whether or not Anton Khudobin would still be riding a hot hand after a 10-day layoff following his last start. It was back to normal for the B’s backup netminder in terms of workload, but it’s not often you see a goalie riding a four-game winning streak proceed to go a week-and-a-half between appearances.
We found out why on Monday evening as Khudobin gave up four goals before getting yanked in the second period of an eventual 5-3 loss to the Predators. The backup certainly didn’t get any favors from the defense in front of him with some pretty brutal breakdowns, but Khudobin also struggled mightily with his rebound control before getting pulled in favor of Tuukka Rask.
Perhaps there were some signs this kind of game was coming from Khudobin after he looked erratic with his rebounds in his last win vs. Pittsburgh right after Thanksgiving, but nobody could have guessed it would be this rough.
The first goal allowed was probably the biggest demerit on Khudobin’s ledger for the night with a juicy rebound of an Alexei Emelin shot that kicked right out to Craig Smith for the put-back score.
“Maybe in the middle of the first,” said Khudobin, when asked if he ever got settled into the game. “[It was a] tough bounce on that first goal. It hit on the wrong side of my pad, and it was a tough bounce.”
The final straw was watching Khudobin give up two goals on three shots in the second period with the Bruins then trailing by four goals. Afterward, Khudobin was properly exasperated, and at a loss for words after watching his goals against balloon to 2.52 and his save percentage drop to .922 after just one bad outing.
“It was a tough game…tough game. With scoring chances against, they pretty much scored on everything that they had,” said Khudobin, who short-changed himself a good save on a Kyle Turris breakaway. “I don’t know what to say to be really honest. When the game’s not going your way, you have to change something to get the guys going.”
The good news about Monday night from a goaltending perspective was that Tuukka Rask stopped 10-of-11 shots, and was strong enough to allow the Bruins a furious comeback before the Fillip Forsberg breakaway ice things in the third period. Rask is heating up (a .937 save percentage over his last four games) as Khudobin is regressing back closer to his career numbers (a 2.47 goals against average and .917 save percentage), and the normal balance of things between the Bruins goaltending duo is returning to normal.
That’s bad news for a goalie in Khudobin that’s no longer red-hot after his worst start of the season, but it’s also pretty decent news for a Bruins team that survived Rask’s down period (thanks to Khudobin) and is now readying for the potential beginnings of a shutdown stretch from their established No. 1 guy.