The team the Capitals beat 3-0 was far from the group that Tomas Vokoun knew during his time in south Florida. With 12 new players on this year’s Panthers’ roster, there weren’t too many of Vokoun’s former teammates left over.
That didn’t stop Vokoun from beating his old club to record his 45th career shutout, though. It was far from the busiest night Vokoun’s ever had – he only needed 20 saves for his first shutout as a Capital – but it counted just the same.
“It was tough for me,” Vokoun. “I didn’t face many shots. In this thing you’re going to get all kinds of games — something I got to get used to. This was my old team; crowd was good. I think we play solid game all through 60 minutes.”
Since his self-described “ugly” debut back on Oct. 10 against Tampa Bay when he allowed five goals on 28 shots, Vokoun has steadily showed the veteran presence he can bring to the net. Even if he’s still getting used to intermittent work as a Capital compared to the regular pelting of pucks he was accustomed to previously in his career. Against Pittsburgh he allowed two goals on 41 shots. Versus Ottawa, he gave up just one goal in 34 and Tuesday against his old team he continued the steady improvement with a goose egg.
“Five, two, one and [zero] is what he’s given up in the last four games you can’t do much better than that,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s pretty solid, and when we did have breakdowns, he’s there to help us out and you need that.”
Even with the less-than ideal stats from his first game this year, Vokoun boasts a .935 save percentage and 1.94 goals-against average.
After this first glimpse at his former team, Vokoun noticed that some of the changes the Panthers made already show improvement from what he was accustomed to.
“They’ve been doing good, and you can tell they’re a whole lot more skilled and pretty quick team,” Vokoun said. “Their forwards, from what we were like, they’re miles in front of what we had last year. Good for them. I don’t hold any grudges. I had a good time; they treated me well.
“It was a little bit different than when Nashville traded me,” Vokoun continued. “This was kind of my choice to leave. I wish them the best, except when they play us.”