Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Predators 5, Bruins 3: Anton Khudobin gets early hook in loss

Ty Anderson
December 05, 2017 - 12:00 am

It appears that the roles, even for just three days, have been reversed.

Tuukka Rask, long the victim of some horrendous reckless play in front of him, was resting after one of the Black and Gold’s most defensively sound wins on Saturday. Anton Khudobin, meanwhile, found himself under siege and pulled after just 24 minutes of play allowing four goals on just 14 shots against in a 5-3 loss to the Predators.

When the Bruins were unable to capitalize as David Pastrnak found himself alone in front of the Preds’ Pekka Rinne just a minute into the game, Craig Smith finished a rebound opportunity at the other end and scored the game’s first goal, at the 1:26 mark.

But even when the Bruins regained control of what finished as a 13-shot first period, it was a late strike on an improbable Smith breakaway, scored with just 18 seconds left in the period, that negated any and all positives the B’s could have taken.

Nick Bonino buried a rebound at the 2:15 mark of the second, and Kevin Fiala fooled Zdeno Chara and Khudobin for Nashville’s fourth goal of the night just 1:55 after that.

Visibly frustrated, with his helmet shaking out all sorts of swears after the Fiala goal, and with four-game winning streak obviously done, the 31-year-old Khudobin departed down the tunnel while Rask stepped in for his first relief appearance of the season.

“It was a tough game,” Khudobin said. “I don’t know what to say, to be honest.”

The Bruins brought themselves back within one goal with goals from Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara, and then David Pastrnak, but a Filip Forsberg breakaway goal scored 34 seconds after Pastrnak’s goal by all means put a bow on a messy night of breakdowns.

In a year that’s become dominated by goalie talk -- or how the team in front of them performs -- it was easy to spot the holes and breakdowns on all of Boston’s goals against. The Predators had numbers (specifically one on… uh… zero) entirely too often, and they connected on their chances. This should be expected from a team that had enough poise to win the West a year ago and with a 10-2-1 home record entering play.

"We just made mistakes and we allowed them the good ice uncontested,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged after the loss. “You can’t do that against any team let alone a team like Nashville. Some mistakes there that were good ones. We didn’t have the layers, obviously, to break down there and give them good ice to recover on those unfortunately. They had very good chances so I give them credit for that.”

But Khudobin’s lack of help began long before the B’s stumbled into the d-zone tonight.

There’s just no way that the Bruins could have or should have expected Khudobin to be the same goaltender after 10 days on the bench. Khudobin himself basically alluded to that being the case with his comments after Sunday’s practice, too.

In an effort to get Rask going, Cassidy took a goaltender (Khudobin) playing at probably the best level of his NHL career to date and sat him down for entirely too long.

The other side to that argument, of course, is that the fall for Khudobin, who has been a lifelong NHL backup, was likely coming. You could also suggest that the writing for that was on the wall in his 17-of-20 performance against the Penguins back on Nov. 24.

But there’s no doubt that this fall was accelerated by that layoff, and now the Black and Gold will have to hope that it’s Rask that stays hot while Khudobin finds his game.

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