The Boston Bruins have had a lot of problems this season, from a defense that could still use a lot of work, to an offense that is struggling to score, to the lack of a backup goaltending option that can adequately fill in to give Tuukka Rask a break. Entering Saturday’s game against Vancouver the Bruins had won just one game this season in which Rask did not start (their trio of backups had a combined record of 1-10-2).
They were able to add to to that total on Saturday with a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks with Anton Khudobin in net.
It was also the Bruins’ second win in a row under new coach Bruce Cassidy after he replaced Claude Julien behind the team’s bench this past week.
In what was his first start for the Bruins since Dec. 23, Khudobin stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced on Saturday and was able to do just enough to help lift the Bruins to the win. It was his first win since Dec. 1 when he stopped 29 out of 30 shots in a win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Offensively Frank Vatrano was the big star for the Bruins on Saturday with his first three-point game of the season, scoring a goal (his seventh of the season) and adding two assists in the win.
After Markus Granlund tied the game for Vancouver late in the third period, Boston’s David Pastrnak was able to score the game-winner with just a little more than two minutes to play in regulation when he beat Canucks goalie Ryan Miller for what is now his team-leading 25th goal of the season.
He remains one of the top-10 goal-scorers in the NHL this season even though he has missed seven games.
With the win the Bruins temporarily move ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and sit two points behind the Ottawa Senators. Both the Senators and Maple Leafs have four games in hand on the Bruins. The Senators were 3-0 winners over the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon while the Male Leafs play Buffalo on Saturday night.
For the Canucks, it is a big missed opportunity when it comes to gaining ground in the Western Conference playoff race. They remain six points back of a wild card spot and have lost six of their past eight games, earning only four out of a possible 16 points in the standings during that stretch.