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“The guy has big-game experience,” Goldman said. “When you play for your country there’s a lot of pride there and there’s a lot of pressure there, too. I think he definitely goes under the radar. He doesn’t get the type of credit he deserves because a lot of his success has come on the international stage and that doesn’t really get recognized like it does with the Stanley Cup playoffs.”

Recognition is closer than anyone could have envisioned when the Penguins traded a seventh-round pick for Vokoun’s rights a year ago. Upon signing him to a two-year, $4 million contract, general manager Ray Shero thought he was getting one of the best backup goalies in the league. And as recently as February, coach Dan Bylsma was insistent that there was no controversy: Fleury was the starter.

That all changed in the first round, and barring injury or a complete meltdown, Vokoun could be the man for the Penguins until they’re eliminated or celebrating. If that’s the case, credit Vokoun’s experience, which included bombing out in his NHL debut with Montreal Canadiens at age 20 and too many seasons that ended before the playoffs.

“When you have the experience of knowing what it’s like to face those highs and lows because you’ve had situations in the past where you had failed, then you’re going to find a way to battle through that,” Goldman said.

That’s just what Vokoun is doing: finding a way. He’s not the most technically sound goalie at this stage of his career, nor is he the most talented of those left in the playoffs.

But just being in this situation is more than anyone figured for Vokoun. Underrated, underappreciated and undervalued, he’s seizing opportunity with the Penguins and close to finding the validation he has been waiting his entire career for.