The Washington Times - December 26, 2011, 07:39PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. | Asked Monday morning to explain his decision to give Michal Neuvirth a fifth straight start, Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter called it a “gut feeling.”

Michal’s been playing well,” Hunter said. “He’s got a couple days’ rest, so he should be fresh again.”

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The gut feeling backfired against the Buffalo Sabres as Neuvirth allowed three goals on six shots Monday night. What followed was a quick hook and Tomas Vokoun making his first appearance since Dec. 13.

Neuvirth had posted a .941 save percentage in his past four starts, playing well against the New Jersey Devils Friday while his teammates took a while to give him some support.

Neuvirth lasted just 11:15 on Monday. The first goal by Jason Pominville could not be pegged on the 23-year-old netminder, but the next two - scored by Matt Ellis and Christian Ehrhoff - were stoppable.

“It was one of those things – the pucks went in,” Hunter said.

Vokoun entered the game off a long layoff and allowed a goal on the first shot he faced. He stopped the final 16 shots he faced afterward.

“It’s hard to feel good when you lose a game like that,” Vokoun said. “I just went in and triying to do the best job I can.”