Dallas Stars goalie Anton Khudobin has made a total of 92 saves in his two games this week against the Florida Panthers.
The irony of that great work is that Dallas went only 1-1-0 in those contests.
Khudobin made 43 saves on Wednesday night as the Stars shut out the Panthers 3-0. He had 49 saves on Monday, but the Panthers won that game 3-1.
On Thursday night, the teams will meet for the rubber match of the three-game series in Sunrise, Fla. And although it’s possible Khudobin could be rested, the Stars goalie may also find a way to torture the Panthers once again.
“I think their goalie was pretty good,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday in what qualifies as an understatement. “Goalies can win games.”
Wednesday’s game marked Khudobin’s 10th career shutout, his second of the season. But when asked about his performance, Khudobin was philosophical.
“There have been many good games in my career, and there have been many bad ones,” he said. “Maybe this was one of my best. I don’t know. I’m just looking at the win.”
The victory, in fact, was Dallas’ first since Feb. 2. The Stars had gone 0-3-3 in the subsequent six games.
Florida, which is 6-3-0 in its past nine games, has rotated goalies Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky for much of this season. However, Driedger has started five of the past six games.
For the season, Driedger has started 10 games, going 7-2-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average. Bobrovsky has started eight games, going 5-2-1 with a 3.18 GAA.
Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle is set to move into sole possession of third place on the NHL’s list of longest games-played streaks. Yandle’s streak is currently at 884 games, tying him with Steve Larmer. Doug Jarvis has the record at 964 games, and Gary Unger is second at 914.
On the injury front, Stars forward Roope Hintz was scratched on Wednesday due to a lower-body injury. He is questionable for Thursday.
Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling left the Wednesday game in the second period due to an undisclosed injury.
The Panthers finished Wednesday’s game with just five defensemen: Yandle, Aaron Ekblad, Anton Stralman, MacKenzie Weegar and Radko Gudas.
Meanwhile, Stars defenseman Esa Lindell, who scored just his second goal of the season on Wednesday, said the victory provided a much-needed lift.
“This gives us a lot of confidence,” he said. “We have been working hard. We believe the wins will come. We earned this win.”
The Panthers, who are led in points (23) and assists (16) by Jonathan Huberdeau, have gone 0-for-6 on their power play in the current series.
Yandle and Huberdeau, who lead the Panthers in power-play points with nine each, will need to be sharper on Thursday, and the same goes for other key Florida players such as top-line center Aleksander Barkov.
Not that the Panthers are worried.
“You’re going to have nights like (Wednesday),” Panthers forward Brett Connolly said. “It was disappointing, but we’ve played well this year.
“It’s a three-game series. We’re looking to bounce back (on Thursday night).”
–Field Level Media