In his five games with the Capitals, goaltender Tomas Vokoun has played through plenty of stretches where he needed to make sure his teammates endured an inspired push from an opponent. Vokoun stopped 40 shots, his most in Washington, against the Flyers on Thursday and made critical saves throughout the second period as Philadelphia swarmed to create numerous chances resulting from lapses in the Capitals’ defensive play.
“Well, at least I’m used to it. It’s not like it’s something I’m not used to. Sometimes it’s an easier way to play,” Vokoun said. “I mean especially on this team, I’m going to be faced with different kinds of games and it’s a learning experience for me. Whatever comes my way, my job is to stop the puck and that’s what I’m worried about.”
Said Coach Bruce Boudreau of Vokoun’s latest outing and ability to make big saves: “It means a lot, and that’s what great goalies do, and he’s in that category.”
As Philadelphia forced the Capitals to scramble, Vokoun tried to calm the action by freezing the puck or simply finding a way to get the puck out of the zone. It was clear at times that Vokoun and his defensemen are still working on their communication when he plays the puck — at times his passes seemed to catch players off guard and lead to turnovers — but when Washington needed him, Vokoun was there.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the Capitals’ three-goal outburst in the third period that provided him and the entire team some welcome breathing room.
“It’s easier for the goalie mentally after that,” Vokoun said. “You don’t have to worry about one mistake costing you the game. You still want to stop everything, it’s just you’re not under so much pressure, so it’s nice when you have a lead like that.”