Fourteen days after his last start in goal for the Capitals, Tomas Vokoun gets the nod in net Wednesday night when they host the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers.
In his most recent appearance, Vokoun stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced in a 47-minute relief effort in Buffalo Monday night en route to Washington’s 4-2 loss.
The 35-year-old veteran has not started a game since Dec. 13, though, and that outing against Philadelphia he allowed four goals on 21 shots and was pulled after the first two periods.
“I’m glad I get to play,” Vokoun said. “Everything you do, you do to be in the net and when you don’t [play] it’s not a good feeling. You want to be out on the ice to earn wins and be a part of that. Saying that, sometimes you’re not going to play. That’s going to happen and you’ve got to deal with it, I’ve got to deal with it. It’s my chance to show what I can do.”
Coach Dale Hunter uses a reward-based system when determining which goaltender will get the start on any particular night. So it’s not surprising that Vokoun gets the nod after a strong outing against the Sabres despite the ugliness of the Capitals’ overall game that night.
“He was solid,” said Hunter, who has routinely dismissed the notion of Vokoun becoming rusty with the lack of consistent playing time . “He’s ready to play. He’s a pro and I have no problem with his work ethic.”
Vokoun will oppose New York backup goaltender Martin Biron, who is 7-1-0 this season with a 1.84 goals-against average and .933 save percentage as all star Henrik Lundqvist gets a night off. In his most recent start, Biron made 24 saves in the Rangers’ 4-2 win over the Islanders on Dec. 22.