The new goalie of the Washington Capitals explained that since the Panthers had gone through so many changes, Tuesday would be just another game.
Although the names may have changed, Vokoun recognized the Panthers on Tuesday. He's seen many a game like this.
The Panthers offered up little challenge to the Capitals, taking just two shots in the opening period and struggled to do anything with the puck. Vokoun earned one of his easiest shutouts of his career, stopping 20 shots as the Capitals downed the Panthers 3-0 at Verizon Center.
Vokoun's last game with the Panthers marked his previous shutout, coincidentally, against the Capitals. Vokoun's shutout on Tuesday was the 45th of his career and was his fourth victory in as many starts for the Capitals this season as Washington is 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. Vokoun's shutout against Washington last season was his 23rd with the Panthers.
“It's my old team so you want to win, you want to play good,'' Vokoun said afterward. “It wasn't like I was looking at the game saying 'I've got to win.' But I'd by lying if I said I wasn't happy. Any time you win, you're happy. I was as happy as when we beat Ottawa or Pittsburgh.''
The Panthers looked nothing like the team that scored seven goals in a rousing victory the night before in Tampa. Washington dominated play throughout and had it not been for some outstanding play by rookie Jacob Markstrom in net, the Panthers would have limped out of the district with a much more lopsided defeat.
“We liked [Monday's] team a heck of a lot better,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “The energy wasn't there. We have made a promise to ourselves that we're not going to make excuses. We know what it is and will prepare ourselves to give our best. But the Capitals didn't see our best tonight.''
Markstom, making his first NHL start, gave up a soft goal to Marcus Johansson 4:24 into the game as the puck slipped between his legs and crept toward the line. Markstrom then jumped at the puck and helped push it across himself.
That was one of the few mistakes the 21-year-old from Sweden made as he took the best the talented Capitals had to offer and stood tall.
This loss isn't on Markstrom.
“He had a good, solid game and really gave us a chance to win,'' Dineen said. “That's not the way you want your debut debut to go, but he worked as hard as he could and didn't get a heck of a lot of support.''
Markstrom, who made his NHL debut last year when Vokoun missed a game because of injury, got introduced to the Capitals in a hurry as Washington crashed him early and often.
Florida only trailed 1-0 going into the third period, a very fortunate turn based on its play. Washington finally broke things open early in the third when Alexander Semin pushed the puck past Ed Jovanovski and put it past Markstrom to make it 2-0.
And that was about it. Of the 20 saves Vokoun was credited with, only a handful had him on his toes.
Markstrom had a much tougher night of it. But it's an experience he'll grow from. Washington's third goal came in the final minute as Jason Chimera scored into an empty net.
“You try to do your best all the time and stop every puck,'' said Markstrom, named the third star of the game. “When we were down 1-0, you just hope to score a goal. .-.-. Back-to-back wins would have felt very good.''
The Panthers played seven defensemen on Tuesday after Sean Bergenheim complained of what assistant general manager Mike Santos said was “soreness” after the pregame skate. With Bergenheim out of the lineup for a night, defenseman Keaton Ellerby was inserted for the first time this season.
Ellerby had been a healthy scratch for Florida's first four games.
“It was the first game in a while, but no excuses. I have to battle through it,'' Ellerby said afterward.
“They have a solid team over there. It's good to get in one. I'm going to keep working in practice and hope to get in a few more.''
-- Florida scored a franchise-tying five power play goals in Monday's 7-4 win over the Lighting and the Panthers came into the game with the top-ranked power play in the league with eight goals.
The Panthers went 0-2 on the power play on Tuesday, the second time in five games this season they struck out with the advantage. Florida was 0-for-5 in its second game against the Penguins.