RALEIGH, N.C. — The Washington Capitals will very likely ride Tomas Vokoun the rest of the season, putting their playoff hopes on the 35-year-old goaltender’s shoulders. But the ride Monday night lasted just over five minutes.
It took seven shots and two goals, perhaps one of which could be blamed on Vokoun, for his night to come to an abrupt halt. Just 5:09 into the first period of a 5-0 embarrassment to the Carolina Hurricanes, Michal Neuvirth replaced Vokoun.
“Change momentum, more than anything and slow down the game and get Neuvy in and just change momentum,” coach Dale Hunter said.
Did it work?
“Not really,” he admitted.
It was an attempt at a spark for a Caps team that came out “flat,” according to right wing Troy Brouwer. Vokoun allowed a big rebound on Justin Faulk’s power-play goal that opened the scoring but couldn’t be faulted for the second one, the result of a Marcus Johansson turnover.
“I don’t think he got pulled because of his play; I think he got pulled because we needed to get a spark,” Brouwer said. “Our effort after that, again, back to it, embarrassing.”
“Just the game itself should’ve led to a spark,” forward Jeff Halpern said. “But it wasn’t Tomas, the whole team was just bad.”
Neuvirth allowed three goals on 33 shots.
“Five — we gave up five, it could’ve been a little bit more, too,” right wing Mike Knuble said. “Michal had to make some saves.”
If it wasn’t over at 1-0, it was certainly over at 2-0, as there wasn’t much of a chance for the Caps to rebound in this one.
“It’s one of those they jumped on us on the power play. That started it all there. We give up a rebound, and it was in the net, and then we made a mistake right after again,” Hunter said. “It’s one of those things where you make mistakes and a team that’s jumping, they were jumping good tonight, you’re going to get burnt.”