A Sweet Return Between the Pipes: Vitek Vanecek Stands Strong in First Game Since February 1

Photo: The Hershey Bears

After suffering an injury in the first period of the Washington Capitals’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 1, goaltender Vitek Vanecek has slowly but surely worked his way back to a return to the Caps’ lineup over the subsequent weeks, culminating in his being assigned to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears on a rehab and conditioning stint earlier today.

Vanecek was given the nod by Bears Head Coach Scott Allen to start against the Utica Comets, and the former second-round pick (39th overall in 2014) stood strong in net in a 3-1 loss.

In the first period, Vanecek made five stops on five shots, including a nice flurry of saves halfway through the period.

In the second, the Bears and Vanecek faced a daunting situation, finding themselves in a 5-on-3 penalty kill with Nick Isaacson and Beck Malenstyn in the sin bin. Despite high pressure from the Comets’ power play unit, Vanecek, along with some help from his goal-posts, denied Utica from taking the lead.

As he has done in games in the NHL, Vanecek paid his respects to his “best friends” after the whistle.

For his efforts, the Chocolatetown faithful serenaded the man known affectionately known as “VV”.

Vanecek made 21 stops on 23 shots faced, for a .913 Save Percentage. While he allowed two goals, neither of which fell squarely on his shoulders. Through two periods, he had stopped all 16 shots faced.

The first goal was scored 16 seconds into the third and final period, and was scored by Utica forward Joe Gambardella.

The second goal allowed came at the 8:53 mark of the third, from Ryan Schmelzer.

Despite the two goals allowed, Vanecek’s strong play is impressive considering he has been out of game action for nearly a month. With the Capitals in need of consistent goaltending at the NHL level, Vanecek’s performance in his return between the pipes is an encouraging sign that he might be able to improve the team’s fortunes at some point in the near future.

By Michael Fleetwood

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About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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3 Responses to A Sweet Return Between the Pipes: Vitek Vanecek Stands Strong in First Game Since February 1

  1. Anonymous says:

    I expect Vitek is recalled in the morning (on his way back to DC tonight) and will backup Sammy tomorrow night.

  2. steven says:

    I hear the talking heads on the Pre-game show talk about getting a goaliefor a playoff run. Which og the Goalies, VV or Samsonov, that are the roster would either be sent down or traded? Is Samsonov tired, bored or just need more time both on the ice and in training?

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