What we learned: Khudobin back on a roll?


Here’s what we learned in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the Key Bank Arena on Tuesday night:

1) The standout season for Anton Khudobin continues.

After a couple of subpar outings from Khudobin once Tuukka Rask rightfully reclaimed his role as No. 1 goalie, the B's backup bounced back with his first shutout of the season. A team playing on the second night of back-to-backs many times needs a little help in order to get over the hump with a victory and Khudobin provided all of the help the tired B’s skaters would need when he stopped 17 shots in the first period. Khudobin was just as strong later on in the game in stuffing Evander Kane on a nasty drive to the net and never faltered as the Bruins got stronger as the game wore on. Khudobin had some help with both Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy blocking shots on rebound attempts when the B's goaltender was away from the crease, but Khudobin played one of his best games of the season to help the Bruins steal a win in a game that could have been a scheduled loss. Khudobin, in the middle of perhaps his best season in the NHL, is still tied for seventh in the NHL with a .923 save percentage that is one point ahead of, guess who? Malcolm Subban with the Vegas Golden Knights.

2) Clearly, Bruce Cassidy is beginning to show some trust in his fourth line.

That trio has begun to give their coach some really good things as a defensively responsible energy line. Cassidy put them on the ice protecting a one-goal lead late in the third period and Noel Acciari stepped right in front of a big Buffalo slap-shot that led directly to Tim Schaller banking an empty-net goal off the side boards. Acciari blocked another shot in the leg area on the next shift while still protecting a two-goal lead. It’s that kind of execution and solid, hard-nosed play that will lead the Bruins to utilize their fourth line as more of a shutdown group in an important moment and lighten some of the load on their best players. A team playing seven games in 11 days needs contributions up and down the lineup and the B’s fourth line has been very, very good in each of the two back-to-back games to hold up their end of the bargain. Sean Kuraly, Schaller and Acciari all played upwards of 15 minutes and were huge factors in grinding out the win over the Sabres. Cassidy has done a good job of cultivating the fourth line and it’s really coming together now that everybody is healthy.

3) Jake DeBrusk's re-emergence.

DeBrusk has been just shy of a point-per-game player with five goals and 12 points in 13 games since being a healthy scratch in mid-November. He got things going again for the Bruins on Tuesday night in Buffalo. It was DeBrusk who entered the zone with speed, blew past Jason Pominville at the blue line and then rocketed a wrist into the net off one of Robin Lehner’s water bottles for a goal. Interestingly enough, DeBrusk also entered this back-to-back set of games with a season-low in ice time in Saturday's loss to the Rangers. He has responded with two strong games of two goals, four points and a plus-3 in wins over Columbus and Buffalo. It says something about DeBrusk’s character and resolve that he responds so strongly to healthy challenges from the Bruins coaching staff and pushes to work harder and become more impactful. Clearly, it’s not just DeBrusk in the Bruins youth movement, but he’s been one of the most consistent first-year performers for the B’s this season.


*Khudobin got his first shutout of the season, a huge 36 saves and a very timely 17 stops in the first period when the Bruins were dragging a little bit entering the second half of back-to-back games with travel. Khudobin is 8-2-2 on the season and will be one of the big reasons the Bruins make the playoffs, if they indeed do make the playoffs.

*It was his only shot on net of the night, but DeBrusk made it count with a rocket wrist shot under the bar that obliterated one of Robin Lehner’s water bottles on its way to the back of the net. DeBrusk is tied for third on the B’s with eight goals scored this season.

*Acciari stepped up and blocked two shots in the closing minutes while the Bruins were protecting a one-goal lead with the goalie pulled and the first of them directly led to Schaller’s empty-net goal icing the game. Acciari missed time earlier this season with a broken finger after blocking a shot but that isn’t deterring him from doing the fourth-line work that’s in his job description.


*Jason Pominville was a minus-3 with just a single shot on net. It was Pominville that was left in the dust when Jake DeBrusk turned on the jets to score his game-winning score in the second period. That was the hockey game right there.

*A rare bad, bad, night for Patrice Bergeron as he finished 5-for-20 in the face-off circle and was pretty much dominated by Ryan O’Reilly. Clearly, it was all good with No. 37 because the Bruins won, but that isn’t something you see very often.

*All of Buffalo’s best players (Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, Jason Pominville, Rasmus Ristolainen) finished either a minus-3 or a minus-2 and the Sabres aren’t going to win when that is the case. Nice job by the Bruins neutralizing them defensively.


Contact Us