PHILADELPHIA | Another night, another stellar performance for Tomas Vokoun. Yawn.
It says something when – after a rough Capitals debut – Vokoun has made it so routine to be one of the standout stars in victory.
Thursday night’s 40-save performance against the Flyers seemed like old times for the 35-year-old who often would get hammered by shots when playing for expansion Nashville and lowly Florida.
“At least I’m used to it,” he said. “Some periods you get one or two shots and some you get 18. Whatever comes my way, my job is to stop the puck, so that’s what I’m worried about.”
The Caps’ play in the second period Thursday gave Vokoun plenty to worry about. Turnovers and defensive lapses tilted the ice toward the Washington defensive end, as the Flyers had the Caps hemmed in. And while some of the blame for the Flyers not being able to tie the score when pressing so hard belongs to them, Vokoun never faltered or let in a soft goal that could’ve changed the momentum.
“It means a lot,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s what great goalies do, and he’s in that category.”
Vokoun was hardly spectacular against the Flyers, just as he wasn’t that in his shutout of the Panthers on Tuesday. The best part for the Caps is, he didn’t have to be. While there were defensive lapses that hurt the Caps and turned up the heat on Vokoun, he didn’t have to make a whole lot of sprawling saves.
But the saves he made, especially during that second-period surge by the Flyers, sure were timely.
“Obviously they’re a good team and lots of skill,” Vokoun said. “They got the momentum in the second period there for, I would say, the first half of that period. That’s going to happen when you play teams like that. We had some moments when we were in their zone for a while. So two good teams going at it.”
Vokoun, having to face sustained pressure and not just spurts of offense, had a strategy about how to handle it. And while a couple times he strayed from it – and it led to a Caps turnover because a skater coughed up the puck – the idea was to calm things down.
“Freeze the puck,” he said. “The best thing is kind of stop the play and stop the momentum for them and maybe get a couple whistles and kind of slow the game down. It’s not always possible, but that’s what you try to do.”
Vokoun succeeded in keeping the Flyers off the scoreboard with his team holding a one-goal lead.
“They was dominating but Vokey play unbelievable and he keep us in the game and keep the lead and in the third period we use our chances to score goals,” captain Alex Ovechkin said.
Vokoun is now 5-0-0 and off to his best start since 2005-06, when he was 7-0-0