Khudobin made 30 saves Saturday night as the Huricanes defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2— his fourth victory in a row after failing to record a win in his first 10 outings of the season,
"It had to come at some point. I lost my first 10 games and I tried to find my game and I've been a little frustrated," Khudobin said after the game in which he was named the first star.
"Right now I'm just more relaxed and I don't think about anything I just stop the pucks."
Nathan Gerbe and Justin Faulk each had a goal and an assist while Brad Malone also scored for the Hurricanes (15-25-5), who have one game remaining before the All-Star break.
Cody Ceci and Mark Stone scored for the Senators (18-18-8), who were unable to get any puck possession in the Carolina zone after pulling Craig Anderson in favour of an extra attacker in the final two minutes.
Anderson finished with 25 saves.
Gerbe scored the winner with a little under six minutes to play in the third period when his shot from 15 feet inside the blue-line appeared to hit something on the way to the net before getting past Anderson.
The teams had entered the third tied 1-1 but less than three minutes into the period each team added another.
Stone gave the Senators their first lead of the game when he beat Khudobin high to the glove side just a minute into the period, but Faulk tied the game at 2:21.
"It's frustrating coming into the locker room after losses. You look at yourself and can't help but think your playoff hopes are dwindling after you lose games. We just need to find ways to get that success," said Stone, who has points in each of his last five games.
"It just takes a little bit of a run and some consistent hockey. This is the time now, these games are important and we have to string some wins together."
The loss leaves the Senators 10-points out of a playoff spot, but worse than that it's a game they certainly could have, perhaps should have won.
"It's a missed two points at the end of the day," Senators coach Dave Cameron said, then turning to baseball for an analogy.
"It's kind of like if you're at bat with the game on the line and you hit a 450-foot foul ball and then you strike out. When you go back to the dugout what do you think about, the near miss or the strikeout? We have to concentrate on the strikeout to get us over that hump. We have to be able to put that ball in play."
Erik Karlsson had two chances in the third period to give the Senators the lead and break the 2-2 tie but was stopped by Khudobin on a breakaway on one opportunity and then stopped by the post on another.
A lot of the credit for the win also goes to Hurricanes defenceman Tim Gleason, who had three hits and three blocked shots and was awarded the red fireman's hat after the game as the hardest worker by his teammates.
"It's a great feeling and a great honour. I'll just take it in stride and enjoy it for as long as it lasts," Gleason said.
The Senators had the majority of opportunities in the first period but it was the Hurricanes who emerged from the opening 20 minutes with a 1-0 lead.
After several turnovers along the side boards the puck went behind the goal line at the side of the Senators net where Patrick Dwyer won a battle with Ottawa defenceman Patrick Wiercioch and fed Malone in front of the net for the first goal of the game.
Malone took a pass and beat Anderson with a quick shot with just 32 seconds left in the period.
Earlier on Khudobin made a great save off Mike Hoffman at the tail end of a two-on-one rush and then caught a break as Curtis Lazar lost control of the puck after getting Khudobin down and out on another two-on-one.
It didn't take the Senators long to respond as Ceci scored 4:39 into the second period.
Erik Condra took a shot the Khudobin stopped but he let out a huge rebound that Ceci caught up to and fired into an empty net as he was following up on the play.
There was an ugly incident not long after as Eric Staal caught Senators defenceman Jared Cowen in the mouth with his stick as he took a full swing at a puck that was on its way down following a high bounce.
Staal took a double minor as Cowen left the ice with a bloodied mouth, although he did return to the game.
Notes- Chris Phillips and Colin Greening were scratches for the Senators. Andrej Nestrasil, John-Michael Liles and Alexander Semin were scratches for the Hurricanes…Anderson played in his 400th NHL game Saturday and 187th with the Senators…The Hurricanes have earned at least one point in 15 of their past 18 games against the Senators…Alexander Semin has just one goal and eight points in 26 games this season after signing a one-year contract in July with the Hurricanes worth US$7 million.Suggest a correction