PITTSBURGH — One opposing shot on net, one goal. It was a familiar scene for Tomas Vokoun on Thursday night — the second straight game he allowed the first puck on goal to go in.
When the Capitals' offense bailed him out to preserve a 6-5 shootout victory against the Lightning, the 35-year-old was steadfast. "I'm going to make a promise: I'm going to get them back sometime when they need me," he said.
That didn't take long.
Vokoun made 39 saves — including 17 in the third period and two more in overtime — to pay his teammates back in the Caps' 3-2 win over the Penguins at Consol Energy Center. Washington had 19 shots on goal.
"Like I said the last time after last game, I didn't have a good game and the guys have an unbelievable game and pull me through, we won the game," Vokoun said. "Today, hopefully I help [them] a little bit ... to stay in the game. That's what team is about."
For long stretches Thursday, the Caps had little sustained offensive pressure, while the Penguins had a shooting gallery on Vokoun. Coach Bruce Boudreau knew this wasn't his team's best game, but he was thankful it was one of the better ones for Vokoun.
"Sometimes you need goalies to steal you a game, and tonight Tomas stole us a game," Boudreau said.
Slow lateral movement cost Vokoun the first Penguins goal, and the second one went between his legs. James Neal scored them both — on shots No. 1 and 38.
"He was outstanding," forward Matt Hendricks said. "He kept us in the game, especially in the first. They could have had a few more, that's for sure."
Vokoun credited the Penguins for jumping all over the Caps at the start — something that was helped by the goal he allowed.
"But we hang in there," he added. "Sometimes these games you've just got to hang around and wait for your break."
Breaks came in the form of an ugly goal by Mike Knuble, a deft deflection by Alex Ovechkin and finally a slick wrist shot by Dennis Wideman. But Knuble had no hesitation calling Vokoun "the difference" for the Caps.
"He showed today that he was one of the best goaltenders in the league," center Nicklas Backstrom said.
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