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Khudobin Stands Tall Again As B's Take Down Devils

Netminder makes 40 saves - and 10 in the shootout - for third straight win

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

NEWARK - Anton Khudobin likes to put things simply, rarely straying from his matter-of-fact approach.

That remained the case on Wednesday night even as reporters pressed him to explain his recent string of success. Is it positioning? Is it strategy? Maybe a little bit of luck?

Or what about that old adage that the puck may just look a little bit bigger these days?

"I don't know. The puck is the same size," said Khudobin. "Kind of joking around saying the puck is bigger right now…but maybe hard work pays off."

Maybe it really is that simple. Not that the Bruins care.

Whatever it is that has Khudobin locked in is fine with them.

The Kazakhstan native, making his third consecutive start between the pipes, continued his torrid stretch, gobbling up 40 pucks - and 10 more in the shootout - during a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

"He's been playing great hockey," said Charlie McAvoy, who was the night's other hero as he ended things with a filthy tally in the 11th round of the shootout to secure Boston's third win in a row.

"He gave us a chance tonight when they put the pressure on - he bailed me out a couple times. When you have a goalie that makes 10 saves in the shootout you owe it to him to get those two points."

Video: Khudobin (40 saves) speaks after SO win over Devils

Khudobin remains undefeated in regulation (6-0-2) and picked up his sixth win of the year after notching only seven victories all of last season. The win in Jersey elevated his save percentage to a league-leading .938, while his 2.13 goals against average places him third.

His latest standout performance has left Bruce Cassidy with yet another decision to make on Friday for the B's matinee showdown with the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Go back to No. 1 backstop Tuukka Rask or continue riding the wave?

"The only decision [on Thursday] is how much turkey to have," quipped Cassidy, who gave his team Thanksgiving off. "Good problem to have. I don't think we can go wrong with whomever we have in there Friday. Gotta give the guy credit, he's been really good for us…Doby's feeling it right now."

Video: BOS@NJD: McAvoy dangles for SO winner in 11th round

Khudobin was immense during the shootout after allowing a goal to Taylor Hall on the opening attempt. The 31-year-old went on to stop the next 10 New Jersey shots, highlighted by a slick glove save on rookie Will Butcher in the eighth round.

"I was hoping it would end," said Khudobin. "It's 50-50, but at the same time you want to win. It's kind of a crazy one, but still a good one. You're always happy with wins, no doubt about it."

That win nearly slipped away in the overtime session - if not for Khudobin. Two minutes into extra time, Adam Henrique trickled in all alone and threw a backhander on goal, but Khudobin was there to shut him down and extend things to a shootout. Khudobin also robbed Henrique on another chance in tight during the final minute or regulation and stoned Blake Coleman's shorthanded breakaway attempt midway through the second.

"He was great. Made the saves when we needed. Everything he sees right now he's stopping, even what he doesn't see," said Patrice Bergeron, who put Boston ahead, 2-0, in the first period with his fifth goal of the season off of a slick feed from David Pastrnak.

Video: BOS@NJD: Khudobin makes a clutch save on Henrique

Perhaps the most impressive part of Khudobin's night was his ability to seemingly acquire X-ray vision. On several occasions, Khudobin was screened in front - never more so than with just under five minutes to go in the third when he had Miles Wood's behind parked in his face - but nonchalantly denied the Devils' chances.

"They drove a lot of pucks to the net and they go hard to the net, too, especially with two guys," said Khudobin. "They got results with one goal. Other than that, maybe I got a little lucky, I don't know. Guys were cleaning the box out and let me see the puck and what was going by. They didn't deflect it which shows good positioning by them too."

Video: BOS@NJD: Khudobin stops Coleman's breakaway

Boston built a quick 2-0 lead on first-period goals from Jake DeBrusk (just 1:25 into the game) - with Matt Grzelcyk picking up his first career point with an assist - and Bergeron (11:20), but New Jersey struck late in the opening frame on Jesper Bratt's tally to get within one. The score remained that way until Brian Gibbons tipped one by Khudobin with 4:46 left in regulation.

"They're a really fast team, really fast team," said Khudobin. "We knew that - a young team too, a lot of young guns. At least we battled through it. We did what we needed to do. They were maybe a little fresher than us…but at the same time it was a tough win. We deserved it and we got it."

Video: McAvoy, Bruins outlast Devils in marathon shootout

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