– With the Bruins facing a tough back-to-back this weekend, it was important for the B’s to utilize their goaltending depth. Head Coach Claude Julien gave backup, Anton Khudobin, the start – his first ever home start in the spoked-B and first time getting the call since February 15th at Buffalo – against Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon, and the Kazakhstan native delivered.
In the B’s thrilling, 3-2, victory over the Lightning, Khudobin made 20 saves and improved to 3-1-0 on the season. It was also his first career win at TD Garden as a member of the Black & Gold.
Both goals that Khudobin allowed came via the Tampa Bay power play – the second off of a wicked one-timer from Steven Stamkos, that any of the game’s elite goaltenders would have had trouble stopping. The goals put the Lightning up 2-0 in the first period, but Khudobin shut the door for the rest of the game.
“Just try to forget about it, just continue to play” said Khudobin, on how the B’s overcame the deficit. “The game is never finished in 10 minutes, it’s finished always in 60-plus minutes. You just have to continue to do your job.
“I think it’s a character win for us. We’re down after 10 minutes, down 2-0; we came back, scored three goals, and they didn’t score on us. Guys played great in front of me. I think we played great.”
With three more back-to-backs this month, Khudobin’s solid play between the pipes bodes well for the Bruins. With Khudobin doing the job when called upon, the B’s can feel comfortable giving Tuukka Rask a breather from time to time.
“It does,” said Julien, on whether the shortened season puts more of an emphasis on having a dependable one-two goaltending punch. “I think every team is going to tell you the same thing. When you get into the heavy schedule, you’re certainly going to need both of those guys playing well for you.
“There’s no doubt that in this situation, it’s more magnified just because of the fact that you’re playing every second night.”
Julien was pleased with the play of Khudobin, and of the players in front of him. The B’s bench boss said there should not be any kind of drop off with the backup goalie in net – no matter who gets the start, the team should always play the same game.
“It shouldn’t matter to us who’s in nets,” said Julien, following the B’s victory that improves their record to 14-2-2 on the season. “We want to play the same game no matter what. As far as Anton was concerned, I thought he was good for us tonight. [He is] 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’s in there, we have confidence in both of those guys.”
Milan Lucic, who drew a high stick late in the third period that led to Brad Marchand’s winning goal on the power play, also pointed to the B’s luxury of having two goalies they believe in.
“He’s played well for us the four games that he’s played this year,” said Lucic. “He’s actually impressed me with his ability to play in net.
“It’s great that we have two goalies that are able to play really well and it was good to get him back in the game, so he can eventually help us out.”