Coach Dale Hunter said Michal Neuvirth will get the start tonight at BankAtlantic Center as the top two teams in the Southeast Division meet for the third time this season.

While it might not have been surprising to see Tomas Vokoun, who has started 13 of the past 15 and earned praise after a 4-3 overtime loss last night to Tampa Bay, Hunter said he didn’t want to overtax the veteran netminder.

“It’s tough coming off five days off then playing back-to-back games,” Hunter said when asked why he opted to go with Neuvirth over Vokoun against the Panthers. “It’s a lot to ask right off the hop.”

It’s a bit surprising given that this is the Capitals’ second trip to Florida, where Vokoun played for four years prior to signing with the Capitals this offseason and where his family still resides. The 35-year-old hasn’t had the opportunity to start here this year.

Vokoun played in the first meeting between the two teams this season back on Oct. 18 and had a 20-save shutout in a 3-0 Capitals win at Verizon Center.

In his last appearance against Florida at BankAtlantic Center, Neuvirth allowed five goals on 30 shots in a 5-4 loss on Dec. 5. Over seven career appearances against the Panthers, Neuvirth is 2-2-1 with a .903 save percentage and 3.02 goals-against average.

More to come.

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