Michal Neuvirth gets his first start since Dec. 5 at Florida Thursday night in Winnipeg as the Capitals look to bounce back from an ugly 5-1 loss to Philadelphia earlier this week.
Neuvirth “just hasn’t played and Tomas [Vokoun] has played a lot of games so we decided to go with him tonight,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “Any more in this league with the travel and everything and how many games you play, you need both goalies going and now it’s Michal’s turn.”
It’s been a rough sophomore season for Neuvirth, who enters the contest 3-5-1 with a 3.73 goals-against average and .875 save percentage. The 23-year-old Czech hasn’t had a consistent opportunity to improve those stats, either, given that he has started consecutive games only once this season.
Neuvirth played in the Capitals’ first visit to MTS Centre back on Nov. 17. He allowed four goals on 31 shots that night, but it was also a game in which Washington’s overall play was porous and then-coach Bruce Boudreau remarked that Neuvirth had been “left out to dry.”
Neuvirth will oppose the Jets’ Ondrej Pavelec, who has won four out of his last five starts and has allowed 11 goals and a .930 save percentage in that span. The lone loss was the Jets’ 7-1 loss to Detroit on Dec. 10, when Pavelec allowed seven goals on 26 shots and was pulled after 41 minutes of play. In two games against the Capitals this season Pavelec has allowed five goals on 69 shots for a .927 save percentage.
In other Jets lineup notes, Nik Antropov is a game-time decision for Winnipeg, while Coach Claude Noel said that Alexander Burmistrov and Randy Jones will not face the Capitals.