Monday, 10.17.2011 / 11:40 PM
Tomas Vokoun is more concerned with helping the Washington Capitals remain undefeated than with taking on his former team.
The veteran goaltender will try to help the Capitals open with five straight wins for the first time in franchise history Tuesday night when they host the Florida Panthers.
Vokoun went 101-108-30 with a 2.57 goals-against average the past four seasons with Florida, ranking third in wins in the history of that franchise. However, the Panthers and Vokoun failed to reach a contract agreement, leaving the 35-year-old netminder free to sign a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Washington (4-0-0) over the summer.
He's now facing his former team for the first time since that transaction, but Vokoun is not about to get caught up in the moment.
"I don't think it will be anything special, but that might change (Tuesday)," Vokoun told the Capitals' official website. "They were trying to re-sign me and it just didn't work out. It was my decision (to become a free agent). I wish them the best."
Vokoun stopped 33 shots in Saturday's 2-1 win over Ottawa to improve to 3-0-0 with a 2.57 GAA for his new team.
The Capitals have opened a season with four consecutive victories for the third time in franchise history. Each win has been decided by one goal, leaving the Capitals fully aware that their early success has not come easy.
"It's October," said forward Mike Knuble, who had two assists versus Ottawa. "You're not going to want to see that in February, March, April. In October it's fine. You work on it and we'll be better Tuesday."
Washington has defeated Florida (3-1-0) in five of the last six meetings at home, including two straight.
Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman, who totaled 33 points in 61 games with Florida last season before he was traded to Washington in February, has two goals with two assists through four contests in 2011-12.
Nicklas Backstrom, who leads the Capitals with five points, has six goals and 22 assists in 26 career games versus Florida.
The Panthers lineup that will take the ice Tuesday does not look much like the one Vokoun and Wideman were part of 2010-11. With the addition of veterans like Marcel Goc
, Brian Campbell
, Sean Bergenheim
, Kris Versteeg
, and former Capitals Matt Bradley
and Tomas Fleischmann
, the Panthers will try for a third consecutive victory.
"They are playing well, they have a good team," Vokoun said.
Versteeg and Stephen Weiss
each had two goals with two assists while Brian Campbell
added four assists in Florida's 7-4 win at Tampa Bay on Monday. The Panthers, who scored five times on nine power-play chances, tallied one more goal than in their previous three games combined.
"Things are going good," said Campbell, who has seven assists on the season.
Versteeg, who has three goals and four assists, has three goals and one assist in six games versus Washington.
The Capitals could also be facing one of their former goaltenders in Jose Theodore
, who won 62 games and posted a 2.84 GAA with Washington from 2008-10. He is 7-8-0 with a tie and a 2.52 GAA against the Capitals but has not faced his former club since January 2008.
Theodore has been in net for Florida in each game this season, and stopped 35 shots Monday.