Khudobin makes all the big stops in B's win

Khudobin makes all the big stops in B's win
April 1, 2013, 2:00 am
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BUFFALO – It was good of the Bruins’ offense to finally awaken from their prolonged slumber for seven minutes of goal-scoring action in the third period on Sunday night. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the early goaltending heroics of backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who notched his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center.

The 26-year-old Khudobin made 26 saves in the shutout victory while improving his 7-3 record on the season, and was at his best right off the hop in the first period. The Sabres jumped right out of the gate with a scoring chance on the very first shift of the game, and Khudobin made his best stop of the game midway through the opening stanza on a partial breakaway.

“It doesn’t matter if you get the one early because you know you’re going to be getting 20 or 30 shots later,” said Khudobin, who saw quality chances among the six stops he made in the first period. “That [stop on Ennis] was an interesting save. I felt it under my right pad and I didn’t even know where it was. I swung my other pad over to stop it…a save is a save.

“I don’t think we’re struggling: maybe we’re a little bit tired or maybe it’s something else. Sometimes we score five or six goals and sometimes we score just one or two. This was one of those games tonight where whoever scored first was going to win.”

Tyler Ennis managed to push behind Zdeno Chara and Rich Peverley fumbling with the puck in the neutral zone, and the speedy little forward had a clear shot at the net coming from the right wing. Ennis faked a shot before attempting to wrap it around Khudobin, but the Russian netminder kicked out his right pad to knock away the shot.

It was one of six saves to keep things scoreless in the first period, and it allowed the Bruins offense time to get untracked before they finally generated two goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. Khudobin said it was simply a matter of doing his job, but it also kept the Bruins from falling behind by a 2-0 score for the first time in the last five contests.

“That big pad save in the middle of the first really gave us some life. All of a sudden we kind of picked up our game from that point on,” said Claude Julien. “There’s no doubt a goaltender can do that for you, and he was on top of his game tonight.

Impressively Khudobin (.925) has now passed Tuukka Rask (.922) in the save percentage category, and continues to show the ability to make big saves in games where there is little room for error. David Krejci might have scored the game-winning goal for the Bruins on Sunday night, but the biggest slice of the victory pie has to go to the No. 1 goaltender of Kazakhstan.