By all accounts, including his own, Tomas Vokoun did not have a good outing Monday when he made his Capitals debut. He was jeered by the home crowd, had a goal go off a defenseman and generally looked out of sync at times throughout regulation against the Lightning.
He got the win, though, after composing himself for a strong overtime and shootout. When it was all wrapped up, Vokoun talked to reporters with no coercion from the team’s staff and was his own harshest critic.
“Right from the start, it didn’t kind of go my way and it started being really choppy. Once you get a little bit on the heels, you’re misreading the plays and it was just ugly, ugly, ugly game for me,” Vokoun said. “Every time I thought something’s going to happen, the exact opposite [happened]. Sometimes you go through games like that.
“It’s too bad – it’s the first game, obviously you want to leave a good impression with the fans and everything. But I can’t tell you the last time I remember having as bad a game as I did tonight,” Vokoun continued. “We won the game – certainly not thanks to me. The team played great and I think it shows a lot of character. Guys battled, came back four times. I’m going to make a promise I’m going to get them back sometime when they need me.”
Vokoun pulled himself together when the game advanced beyond regulation, though, and made stops that were critical to Washington’s chances of gaining the all-important second point against a divisional foe. It showed Coach Bruce Boudreau that the veteran goaltender has the wherewithal to fight through even the ugliest of games.
“Like I said in the dressing room, if you asked Tomas he’ll be the first one to tell you it was probably not the way he wrote the script,” Boudreau said. “If you’re trying to look at the big picture, it takes a guy with a lot of mental toughness to play like that. Then in the OT when you’re having 4-on-3 [players] against, you make those four huge saves when, I’ve gotta believe if it was me, I’d be so mentally out of it.
“You touch the puck and the crowd’s booing ya. It’s your first game in there and you want to make an impression. Your agent has spouted off in the paper about it being a slap in the face and he comes up and makes those big saves and then he makes the save in the shootout,” Boudreau continued. “So it told me a lot about his character. It ends up as a positive thing even if he didn’t have a positive game for the most part.”