Shockingly, between three other goaltenders and 23 games into their season, the Bruins still did not have a win by a goaltender not named Tuukka Rask. But after an improbable 2-1 shootout win over the Hurricanes at TD Garden, Anton Khudobin is finally on the board.

Bruins/Hurricanes (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins pulled off a third period comeback for their second point in as many games Thursday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Shockingly, between three other goaltenders and 23 games into their season, the Bruins still did not have a win by a goaltender not named Tuukka Rask. But after an improbable 2-1 shootout win over the Hurricanes at TD Garden, Anton Khudobin is finally on the board.

And in one of the sleepiest hockey games you will see this year, and maybe this decade for that matter, Khudobin did just about everything he could the Black and Gold in it against Cam Ward.

Peppered at will by his former club in an 11-shot first period, the 30-year-old Khudobin made stop after stop, and that carried on over into the second period, when the Kazakh backstop came up with a stop on the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner on a 3-on-0 his way. (It may have even a 4-on-0 had one of the ‘Canes noticed what was up ahead of him.)

But just seconds after that stop, the dam on Khudobin finally gave way in the form of a Noah Hanifin power-play bomb that simply went through No. 35 and into the B’s net for Hanifin’s second goal of the season. Although the Bruins had little jump in this game, the Hanifin bullet didn’t help energize the Bruins one bit, as they put just seven shots on Ward in the middle period, and were en route to their second straight defeat after 29 shots — and few real chances — on the veteran Ward.

But it was on the 30th shot of the night that the Bruins finally found an answer.

With the net empty for a 6-on-5 advantage, and David Backes camped out in front of the Carolina net, a kick from Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen made its way into the ‘Canes crease and into through Ward for a 1-1 draw with just 31.5 seconds to go.

The goal was credited to Torey Krug, while David Pastrnak and David Krejci picked the assists.

Onto their second overtime period in three nights, the Bruins’ best chance came on a Krug net-front opportunity stoned by a splitting Ward, and was shortly followed up by a penalty drawn by ex-Hurricane Riley Nash that put the Bruins on a 4-on-3 power-play opportunity. But while the passing game remained sharp, the shot game stayed cold, even on the 4-on-3 and with Ward’s vision blinded by first Backes and then Matt Beleskey, as the Bruins rang high glass with incredible regularity.

In a shootout, again, for the second time in three nights, the first round began with a Ryan Spooner gloveside goal on Ward, while Jacob Slavin countered with a pretty goal of his own on Khudobin. The second round came up with stops from Ward and Khudobin, while Pastrnak deked Ward out of his pants for a goal in the top of the third.

And with a chance to seal the deal on his first win of the season, Khudobin came up with the stop and put a ‘W’ next to his name for the first time this year, behind a straight-up stellar 29-of-30 performance.

Here are four other things we learned in an improbable thievery on B’s ice

B’s man advantage continues to sputter vs. strong PK teams

The Hurricanes came into tonight’s game with the league’s best penalty kill, with just six power-play tallies allowed on 58 times shorthanded (89.7%). So perhaps the Bruins’ struggles on the man advantage — an 0-for-3 finish to the night — was to be at least somewhat expected.

But in 24 games this year, and in six games against teams currently ranked in the league’s top 10 for penalty killing percentage (the ‘Canes, Blues, Maple Leafs, Devils, and two games against the Rangers), the Bruins are now just 2-for-18 on the power play.

“Oh, wow, the power play struggles against good penalty killing units?” you ask in a mocking tone. “Good analysis, jabroni.”

But in what used to be an incredible strength for the Bruins (remember that the B’s finished last year with the seventh-best power play in the entire NHL, at 20.5%), the Black and Gold’s man advantage simply looks overmatched when it goes against the best in the opposing category. It’s simply no longer a strength on strength matchup.

Striking first remains an issue for Bruins

Without a goal on 10 first period shots, and without a goal at their own end behind 11 stops from Khudobin, the Bruins carried a scoreless draw into the first intermission for the 11th time this season.

That, of course, means that the Bruins have failed to open up their first period with a goal in almost of their games to date (tonight was Game 24 of 82). This figure hasn’t been as disastrous as it could be, however, as the Bruins have scored 15 first period goals overall (which puts them in the middle of the pack) while allowing just 13 on their own net.

But after two periods, it was the Hurricanes that were on the board while the B’s continued to sit with a zero next to their name. With just seven second period shots to their name, too.

And it took the Bruins until the final minute of play to come up with an actual response (a goal), for that matter.

This has been a problem and will continue to be a problem, especially when the Bruins run into offenses that are much better than that of the rather mild Hurricanes, much like it was when the B’s spotted the Flyers a two-goal lead after one.

Hanifin non-trade continues to haunt Bruins

It was at the 2015 NHL Draft that then-new B’s general manager Don Sweeney wanted to make a big splash. And as the story goes, he had sights set on Massachusetts native and Boston College standout Noah Hanifin. Projected to somewhere in the top ten (but closer to the top five), the Bruins wheeled and dealed into back-to-back-to-back picks in the middle of the first round at the expense of Milan Lucic (to the Kings) and Dougie Hamilton (to the Flames).

But the Bruins did not have the pieces — both before they moved Lucic and Hamilton and after — to pull off a deal to entice a team within striking distance of Hanifin (who ended up going to the ‘Canes at No. 5 overall).

And Hanifin has made ’em pay for it ever since.

In just his fourth career game against his hometown club, the 19-year-old scored the game’s first goal, a power-play tally, and has now scored two goals and four points in four career games against the Bruins. As a rite of passage for any local or ex-Bruin returning to the Hub against the Bruins, Hanifin also scored the game-winning shootout goal against the B’s a year ago.

And though the club’s inability to land Hanifin has become a somewhat manageable pill to swallow thanks to the emergence of Brandon Carlo (drafted in the same class, just 32 picks later) as a legitimate NHL defenseman, there’s no denying that Hanifin is a legitimate superstar in the making and foundational piece that would have looked absolutely perfect in his backyard.

Chara-less defense beginning to find its groove

In what the club hopes will be their fifth and final game without their captain and No. 1 defenseman, Zdeno Chara, the Bruins actually saw solid contributions from their defensive six, including a noteworthy pressurizing attack from the third pairing. Given advantageous matchups through the night, the Joe Morrow and Colin Miller duo really seemed to generate positive traction with each shift, and were especially noticeable in the Bruins’ pushes through the neutral zone.

The Bruins also saw two significant defensive contributions from their second pairing of Kevan Miller (shifted to the left) and Brandon Carlo, with each coming up with a strong one-on-one effort in the first and third period to deny the Canes a prime scoring chance on net. Both times, the respective defenseman wiped out any chance of a real opportunity for the opposition.

That said, you still want and need to see the 6-foot-9 Chara back to his normal spot for this club and soon.

The Bruins are back in action with a Saturday matinee in Buffalo against the Sabres.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Riley Nash came to the Bruins from the Hurricanes this past offseason. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Riley Nash came to the Bruins from the Hurricanes this past offseason. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

Riley Nash was more than surprised to find a crowd of reporters in front of his locker at Warrior Ice Arena this morning.

“What’d I do?” a genuinely curious Nash asked.

Apparently, Nash forgot to check the calendar and notice that tonight is his first head-to-head with his former team, the Hurricanes, at TD Garden. But, really, it’s all you need to know about Nash’s vendetta against the organization he called his own for six seasons.

It doesn’t exist.

“It’s a little different, I’ve never had this feeling before,” Nash, who spent a Monday off-day catching up with his old teammates, including former roommate Jutin Faulk, said. “You don’t really miss a beat when you see those guys.”

But the fact that theyr’e considered his former teammates does seem a little odd. Despite the Hurricanes’ effort to get younger, Nash is only 27 years old, and ended his final season with the club with five goals and 13 points in his final 27 contests.

Still, there’s no ill will on Nash’s part.

“It’s business,” Nash noted. “They wanted to go in a new direction. And I think that’s pretty much it.

“I don’t have anything negative to say about them,” Nash said. “[Hurricanes general manager] Ron Francis was awesome to me. He took care of me. It’s just a new opportunity here. I’m happy where I’m at, and I’m happy to be with this club and this group.

Signed to a two-year, $1.8 million deal on July 1, and a seamless fit into Claude Julien’s system as a do-it-all forward that’s played both wing and center for extended stretches this year, Nash said that he felt welcomed from the moment the Bruins called.

“You could usually tell with a phone call if a person is excited or wants you to be there or not,” Nash said of when ‘a few’ people from the B’s organization called him when free agency began. “You can kind of hear it in their voice. It’s pretty hard to mask that.

“I felt this was an option that would be a good choice for me. They won a Cup here, and they went to another Stanley Cup Final, and this is a group that knows how to win and has been there before, so for me, it was a pretty easy decision.”

As for any collisions with his old friends, Nash said there might be a few laughs, depending on if he’s the one getting hit into the boards or if he’s the one dishing out said hit into boards.

In net, Anton Khudobin gets the start for the Bruins. This will be just his second start since coming back from an upper-body injury last weekend. The 30-year-old Khudobin stopped 27-of-29 in his last appearance, a 2-1 loss, and has zero wins and an .878 save percentage in three games this season. Khudobin, another former Hurricane, won 27 contests in 70 games for the club from 2013 to 2015 before he was moved to Anaheim in a trade for James Wisniewski.

The Hurricanes counter with Cam Ward. In an unexpected renaissance year of sorts, the veteran Ward comes into play with seven wins and a .915 save percentage in 17 games this season, and posted six wins and a .935 in 12 games last month. Ward has found some on-again, off-again success against the B’s in his career, too, with 14 wins and a .918 in 32 career games.

This is the first of three meetings between the Bruins and Hurricanes this season.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Tim Schaller – David Krejci – David Backes

Matt Beleskey – Riley Nash – Austin Czarnik

Ryan Spooner – Dominic Moore – Jimmy Hayes

Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid

Kevan Miller – Brandon Carlo

Joe Morrow – Colin Miller

Khudobin

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Brad Marchand has totaled 460 minutes in penalties in his NHL career. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

Brad Marchand has totaled 460 minutes in penalties in his NHL career. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

Bruins winger Brad Marchand is no stranger to outbursts. Marchand is also no stranger to current Canadiens agitator Andrew Shaw. The two have history dating back to Shaw’s days with the Blackhawks, and even dropped the gloves in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

So, safe to say that Marchand had some thoughts on Shaw’s complete and total meltdown after a penalty assessed his way in the final moments of a 2-1 Tuesday night loss to the Ducks.

In case you didn’t click the link above, Shaw smashed his own stick to absolute bits inside the penalty box, dropped about a dozen f-bombs on the referees, was given the gate, and then punched an entire rack of unbroken sticks on his way back to the Habs’ locker room.

“Oh, he showed those sticks,” Marchand said with a grin.

“I think we all get frustrated,” Marchand, a player having taken more than his share of penalties similar to that of Shaw’s game-ending call, admitted, noting the frustration that can come when you’re whistled for a call that late in a close game. “You know, I’ve learned — well I’m still learning — [there’s] not a whole lot you can do at that time. It is what it is, and guys are emotional at that time in a game.”

Whistled for 182 penalties since the start of the 2010 season, including eight majors, four misconducts, and two game misconducts, the 28-year-old Marchand hangs his hat on one positives from his own meltdowns.

I didn’t lose it as bad as [Tuukka Rask] when he threw the pucks over the glass,” Marchand joked. “So I feel good about that.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

What does the second-most goals in the NHL get you? Well, I’m not sure to be honest, but I can tell you that it does not get your name on the ballot for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Not if you’re Bruins winger David Pastrnak, anyways.

David Pastrnak has scored 13 goals in just 18 games this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak has scored 13 goals in just 18 games this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

What does the second-most goals in the NHL get you? Well, I’m not sure to be honest, but I can tell you that it does not get your name on the ballot for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Not if you’re Bruins winger David Pastrnak, anyways.

Despite his 13 goals and 17 points in 18 games played this season, the 20-year-old was not among the four Bruins featured on the ballot that dropped earlier today for Atlantic Division representation in this year’s weekend festivities at the Staples Center. Instead, the ballot featured Pastrnak’s linemates, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, along with defenseman Zdeno Chara, and goaltender Tuukka Rask.

In comparison to Pastrnak’s stats on the year among other forwards on the team (and more specifically those put on the ballot), only Marchand is close, with seven goals and 20 points in 23 contests. Bergeron has tallied just three goals and six points in 20 games played. Bergeron, of course, was the lone Bruins rep at last year’s All-Star weekend in Nashville.

And among the 16 other forwards featured within the Atlantic over Pastrnak, only the Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk (19) and Lightning top-liner Nikita Kucherov (26) have recorded more points than No. 88 in black and gold has this year.

It’s still possible for Pastrnak to get into the game, however, but it will just need to be done via a write-in campaign.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

On the ice for the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, it’s another day closer to a return for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

On the ice for the club’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, it’s another day closer to a return for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Unfortunately for the Bruins, though, that day is not today, as Chara will miss tonight’s matchup against the visiting Hurricanes and his fifth straight contest overall.

“He’s out there skating,” confirmed Claude Julien, “but not playing tonight.”

In four games without Chara, the Bruins are 1-2-1, and have allowed eight goals over that stretch. Dating back to Chara’s exact absence, which came after just one shift in the second period of Nov. 22’s loss to the Blues (the Blues scored all four of their goals with No. 33 out), the Bruins have been outscored 12-to-9.

Though their record does not show it, the Bruins have remained a stingy defensive unit in Chara’s absence, with just 107 shots allowed (26.8 shots against per game) in those four sans Chara contests. But perhaps no performance was more impressive than Tuesday’s effort in Philly — in a shootout loss, naturally — in which the Bruins peppered Steve Mason for 47 shots on goal while only allowing 21 at the other end of the rink.

“We’ve hung in there,” Julien said of his team’s recent defensive performances without both Chara and now John-Michael Liles (out indefinitely with a concussion). “Last game we give up two early goals — one power-play and one even strength — and for the rest of the game, we managed to shut them out. Good goaltending helps, but at the same time I think we really minimized the scoring team’s opportunity that night. [The Flyers] didn’t have as many scoring chances as they normally do.”

Down Chara and Liles for the second straight contest, the defensive pairings are expected to remain the same after a morning skate without much change, with Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid as the club’s de facto top pairing, Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo paired as the club’s shutdown unit, and Joe Morrow and Colin Miller as the team’s third pair.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

Send questions for next week’s mailbag to letitbleedrearad@gmail.com or @RearAdBsBlog on Twitter.

Should the Bruins keep David Krejci? (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Should the Bruins keep David Krejci? (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

How will the Bruins fare in December with 16 games in 31 days? Dan, Wakefield, MA

Obviously much better if they get Zdeno Chara back soon. Despite the many games, the team never leaves the Eastern time zone, and South Florida is the longest trip. The B’s can’t wrap up a playoff spot before 2016 ends, but they can certainly dig themselves a tough hole. The guess here is that they bob and weave through the month with an 8-5-3 record.

David Krejci is due $7.25M for four more years after this season. Do the Bruins try to move him? Steve, Hyde Park, MA

I think they’d move any player if the right deal came along (or, in the case of the B’s, the wrong deal). But if you’re a GM, do you want an underperforming, finicky pivot who presumably will get slower at that number? I don’t. I think the team is giving him plenty of rope after his offseason hip surgery because the healing can be notoriously long and I wouldn’t count him out yet. But he needs to stop being bored by the regular season or he’ll miss yet another postseason.

What’s your take on the Las Vegas Golden Knights? Jason, Nashua, NH

I love that Vegas finally has a pro team in any sport because it’s been way too long due to outdated, puritanical thinking about gambling. But that name almost makes me wish they take it back. I know the new owner is a big West Point guy and was intent on working “knights” into the name. But the name and logo are both very underwhelming. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, only the team’s play does. But it definitely feels like a squandered opportunity from a marketing perspective.

Florida surprisingly fired Gerrard Gallant. Does Tom Rowe get them to the playoffs? Danny, Plymouth, MA

Gallant’s canning seemingly came out of nowhere and blindsided his players. The popular bench boss was let go due to “philosophical differences” with the now analytics-heavy front office. This is Massachusetts native Rowe’s first NHL head coaching gig. He last coached in 2015 in Portland, Maine, before joining the parent club’s staff (he also was the first American to score 30 goals in the NHL). Either due to injury and/or subpar play, The Panthers’ goaltending will keep them on the outside looking in when April gets here.

Is this the year Dallas finally takes it to another level? Ricky, Auburn, MA

If the Stars upgrade the goaltending. Antti Niemi and/or Kari Lehtonen aren’t going to get them there. But the problem is finding a team willing to take one of those contracts off their hands. Paying $5.9 million for Lehtonen or $4.5 million for Niemi just isn’t a smart move for a GMs until the pot is really sweetened. But the Stars’ window is now, so they better fix their net issues soon.

Blog Author: 
Rear Admiral

In their annual valuation list, Forbes Magazine has ranked the Boston Bruins as the fifth-most valuable franchise in the National Hockey League this year, with a value of $800 million.