– Anton Khudobin
hasn’t seen NHL action in over year, but he looked as if he hadn’t missed a beat when he started in net for the Boston Bruins Thursday night.
Khudobin made 44 saves to lift his team to a 3-1 victory over the Senators, while the Bruins played without Zdeno Chara
, Tim Thomas
and Patrice Bergeron
, who were all healthy scratches.
Recent call-up Lane MacDermid
was also a healthy scratch, while Johnny Boychuk
missed the game due to a knee sprain.
“There’s no doubt he was our best player tonight and it was nice to see that,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said about Khudobin. “He’s been playing pretty well all year in Providence…Tonight was just proof he’s a good goaltender and it’s very deserving of him to get the accolades because if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if the score might’ve been different.”
Naturally, Khudobin experienced butterflies before his first start with the Bruins, but after the first few shots, he said he settled in.
Ottawa peppered the B’s goaltender throughout the evening, but he held his ground albeit a goal from Jason Spezza – which squirted through a screen in front of Khudobin.
“[Ottawa had] good, smart shots,” Khudobin said. “They know where to put the puck and shot through the guys, through the legs [and you have to] try to figure it out where [the shots] come from.
“The first one, I saw the shot. It was a little deflection in front, that’s why it hit the post. But then Marty [Turco] said it hit my pad I think and went to the net.”
Khudobin’s performance in net was certainly impressive on the stat sheet, but the potential long-term benefits are promising.
With Turco ineligible to play in the playoffs, and goaltender Tuukka Rask
still out, Julien is confident that Khudobin could serve as a good backup in the playoffs.
“There’s an opportunity he may have to start with us in the playoffs,” Julien said. “We don’t know whether Tukkaa will be ready or not, and to give that performance is certainly encouraging for us and the whole team.”
And if Khudobin is called upon beyond the regular season, he said he’s prepared to do so.
“Playoffs is different hockey,” Khudobin said. “But at the same time, I got a little shots, I got a little experience – a little feeling for the NHL so if [the Bruins] need me, I’ll be ready to go.”