ST. LOUIS, MO. - SEPTEMBER 15: Anton Khudobin #35 of the Minnesota Wild defends against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on September 15, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Anton Khudobin waited patiently for his chance to get back out on NHL ice. He got his first chance to do that since April 5 on Monday night, and he didn’t disappoint.
The absence of Tim Thomas meant that Tuukka Rask would get a chance to show what he could do as the starter. It also meant that Khudobin, who has spent most of his Bruins career in Providence, would also get a chance to prove his worth, albeit as Rask’s backup.
Claude Julien has said over and over that Khudobin would need to be ready, especially in a shortened season. He proved Monday night that he was ready, as the 26-year-old was very effective in the Bruins’ 5-3 win.
Khudobin wasn’t as sharp as he was in that April 5 start against Ottawa where he stopped 44 of 45 shots he faced against the Senators, but he was still very effective against a potentially potent Carolina offense.
He let in the three goals, but that was more of a byproduct of what happened in front of him more than anything else.
He was left in a vulnerable position in the first period when Jamie McBain worked a give-and-go with Eric Staal that left McBain all alone in the slot. In the second period, a Shawn Thornton turnover led directly to a Jeff Skinner goal, and the same happened 50 seconds later when an uncharacteristically sloppy play by Chris Kelly led to an Eric Staal goal from Alexander Semin.
Aside from that, though, Khudobin was rock-solid. He looked calm and showed poise all night, turning away 29 shots, and stood tallest in the third period when he stopped the eight Carolina shots that came his way.
“He was pretty solid,” Julien said after the game. “A couple of lapses in front of him were our own fault. That first one was the four-man attack and [McBain] sneaks in the middle, and the other ones were breakdowns from our team.
“I thought he played pretty solid, and he got us the win. We’re going to need both of our goaltenders to help us and get us some wins and he did both tonight.”
Having a second goaltender who can be effective is always important, but it takes on greater importance this season. A poor backup could derail a team looking to sustain momentum while simultaneously resting its starting goalie.
The Bruins were able to do both of those things Monday night, with Khudobin doing more than enough to keep the B’s train rolling.