Michal Neuvirth will make his third consecutive start as the Capitals host the Predators Tuesday night at Verizon Center. It will mark the first time this season that the 23-year-old netminder has started in three straight games.
“He’s got a clean slate since I started coaching,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “We ran the numbers and he’s got over a .920 save percentage, which is good, so he’s back in tonight and I liked his practice today. We’ll see tonight.”
Veteran Tomas Vokoun has struggled recently. After yielding four goals in a 5-1 loss to the Flyers, the 35-year-old’s goals against average dropped to 2.81 and his save percentage fell to .906.
In his most recent two outings, Neuvirth allowed two goals on 54 shots. The young Czech pitched his first shutout of the year in a 1-0 win at Winnipeg on Dec. 15 but in Colorado two nights later he did not appear as poised and gave up a soft goal on a fluttering shot.
Hunter was happy with the way Neuvirth responded in the rest of the game against the Avalanche, though.
“He’s a young guy still, he’s a competitor and he wants to win,” Hunter said. “Everybody in the building knew he just missed [the first goal against Colorado]. Didn’t see it, didn’t pick it up. He bounced back and gave us a solid game after.”
Under Hunter, which includes four starts and a relief appearance in the third period against Philadelphia, Neuvirth has given up 10 goals on 130 shots for a save percentage of .923.
Neuvirth is 4-6-1 in 13 appearances this season with a .889 save percentage and 3.27 goals-against average. He has just one career appearance against the Predators, a 3-2 overtime win back on Oct. 16, 2010. He made 37 saves in the outing.