Khudobin Comes Up Big In Third To Help Bruins Protect Lead

BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins grabbed another lead on Thursday night, and this time they closed it out. Despite late pressure from the Sharks, goaltender Anton Khudobin stopped the final 19 shots he faced and helped the team hold on with a big third period.

He was happy that the Bruins didn’t get many bad bounces besides the rebound that led to Joe Thornton’s second-period goal, the lone score for San Jose. But he also gave credit to the guys in front of him for tightening up defensively and letting him see the puck better after a third-period collapse last time out against the Sabres.

“We didn’t get unlucky bounces and all kinds of stuff, but at the same time, the guys did a hell of a job in front of me,” said Khudobin. “They were clearing the pucks, and they were blocking the shots. They stayed in the right position when the shot was going through and stuff like that.”

Khudobin made 36 saves including five in the final 2:32 alone, as the Sharks spent much of the game on the attack and drew six power plays. The Sharks’ barrage of shot attempts (71 in all) put a lot of pressure on Khudobin and sometimes nearly caught him in the wrong spot, but captain Zdeno Chara gave the goalie credit for continuing to fight back.

“At times he was out of position, you can tell, but he recovered really well and he just battled hard and made some big saves obviously,” said Chara. “And sometimes it’s not going to be always perfect and pretty, but he really showed that he was battling for us, and when you have a one-goal game, you know, it’s a lot of pressure, obviously, on the goaltenders not to let any more behind them.”

Khudobin played well to close the game out, but he also had a pair of particularly clutch saves in the first period. First he denied a low, hard slap shot from Brent Burns on an early Sharks power play:

And later, he stopped Kevin Labanc in the slot as he cut through the Bruins’ back end for a point-blank opportunity:

It’s been an up-and-down start to the season for Khudobin, whose save percentage jumped from .910 to .926 after the strong effort on Thursday. Tuukka Rask is still expected to start against the Kings on Saturday, but it will be interesting to see if Khudobin can play as well as he did against the Sharks more consistently.

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