BOSTON -- Heading into what was a very busy month of March for the Bruins, coach Claude Julien said he would rely more on Anton Khudobin, who at the time had only three starts under his belt this season. Julien cited the need to give starter Tuukka Rask more rest before the playoffs, while his team played a very demanding schedule. Khudobin has performed like a starter himself, going 5-2-0 since the beginning of March.
On Tuesday he backstopped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Senators with a 45-save performance in his best game yet for Boston.
Khudobin is now 8-3-0 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. Julien said postgame that Khudobin has proven to be just what the Bruins needed between the pipes in a condensed season.
"He's a battler, I think we all saw that," Julien said. "He's been working hard all year. When he's given the opportunity, except for that game in Toronto, which I don't think he was that bad, we just kind of made that change for momentum reasons. But, he's been pretty good. He's made a great combination with Tuukka, as far as this kind of schedule with what you've got to do with your goaltenders. He's been a great complement to our group."
As his team suffered plenty of defensive lapses in allowing so many scoring chances, Khudobin battled his way around the crease and wherever he had to go to make a save. But oddly enough, it was the Senators' second goal that saw Khudobin battle the most and show that he will do anything to make a save. Khudobin was caught out of the crease and as Andre Benoit let the shot go, Khudobin dove across the crease and appeared to make the save, but it was ruled to be a goal later when the replay showed the puck go just under the crossbar.
"I wasn't thinking because I wasn't thinking anything. When it hit my head, I just stand up pretty much and the play was on," Khudobin said. "They didn't score, good, so let's continue playing. After the referee said that it's replay, and after replay he said goal. Of course, I wasn't happy with that, but still it doesn't matter. We got the W, that's most important."
As for facing 47 shots, Khudobin admitted fatigue but again was more concerned about the end result.
"I'm pretty sure for their goalie it's not fun right now because he lost," Khudobin said of Sens goalie Robin Lehner, who stopped 47 of 50 shots. "But it doesn't matter for me. I got the W. I'm happy with that. We got our points and we keep moving forward. I'm pretty happy. If it could be less maybe I wouldn't be that much tired. It's all right."
So as the Bruins begin this final month of the 2013 regular season, they can rest easy in knowing that if Rask needs a break or stumbles at all, they have a very capable goalie in Khudobin.
"We have both goalies playing well. Obviously, both step up at different times, and right now Anton is playing extremely well, but I'm not saying that Tuukka is not," said captain Zdeno Chara. "Both of them are playing well. When we need them they're making big saves, so it's not like one guy is better than the other. We're just playing as it goes right now, and he's playing well."