Bruins 3, Blackhawks 2: Khudobin backstops a huge win
The talking points from the Bruins' crucial 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks in Chicago, which catapaulted them over Toronto and Ottawa and into second place in the Atlantic Division . . .
Anton Khudobin was at his best at the beginning and end of a stellar 41-save performance. Neither of the two goals he allowed were really his fault, 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, who was crumpled up inside the Boston net. The other Chicago goal was scored by a wide-open Jordin Tootoo in front on busted D-zone coverage. Khudobin was great in making 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins held a slim 1-0 lead, 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, and should still be considered a hot hand even if he doesn’t play another game this season.
It’s a literal black eye for Hart Trophy candidate Patrick Kane, who took a puck to the face during pregame warm-ups and needed a few stitches prior to the game. But the Blackhawks superstar sucked it up and played in a game that meant very little for Chicago, which has already clinched home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs. 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 afternoon.
The Bruins had a 1-0 lead 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 was no exception. Bergeron finished with a goal and nine shot attempts in 21:32 of ice time along with a 21-of-31 performance in the faceoff circle. Bergeron won 9-of-10 draws in the third period, and nearly all of them seemed to be important D-zone face-offs in a tight game. The goal was a top corner nipper shot off a pure chemistry feed from Brad Marchand in what was a hreat 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.