Khudobin nets a 'W' in debut on home ice

Khudobin nets a 'W' in debut on home ice
March 2, 2013, 11:00 pm
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It was a couple of years in the making, but Anton Khudobin finally got into an NHL game at the TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins.

It turned out to be a good one for the Bruins backup goaltender. Khudobin made 20 saves to help lead Boston to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden. It lifted Khudobin’s record to 3-1 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .906 save percentage on the season, and was a solid effort considering that the Kazakhstan native hadn’t got into a game in more than two weeks.

“Before the game I tried to focus on the game. I tried to think, what are they going to do?” said Khudobin. “I felt like I didn’t play in two weeks, but at the same time you pretty much just have to go there and play no matter what.”

The two weeks of rust probably didn’t do Khudobin any favors when he faced a Steve Stamkos one-time hammer from the bottom of the left face-off circle on a first-period power play, and couldn’t get any piece of the short-side blast. The penalty kill let him down on the second Tampa goal when the entire PK unit collapsed on Ted Purcell down the slot. That sequence left Alexander Killorn open for a clean shot at the cage that eluded Khudobin to push Boston down by a 2-0 deficit.

But that was it for Khudobin and the Bruins defense as they killed off five more Tampa power plays through the rest of the game, and the B’s goalie made 17 saves over the final two periods.

“It shouldn’t matter to us who is in net. We want to play the same game no matter what,” said Claude Julien. [But] as far as Anton [Khudobin] was concerned, I thought he was good for us tonight. He’s a guy who hasn’t played much, at first maybe he was trying to feel his way through.

“But he got better and better as the game went on, so we were really happy with his performance. Our team is going to play the same way no matter who is in there, and we have confidence in both of those guys.”

The Bruins goaltending would appear to be right where they need to be: the Bruins are ranked third in the NHL with a 2.06 goals against average and sit fourth with a .928 save percentage on the season. Obviously the bulk of that credit goes to Tuukka Rask’s performance in 14 of the first 18 games this season, but Khudobin is giving the Bruins everything they possibly could have asked for out of the backup netminder spot.