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Vokoun stellar under heavy workload

Vokoun stellar under heavy workload

Friday, 10.02.2009 / 6:10 PM / 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

HELSINKI -- There is no rest for the weary in the case of Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun.

The Florida goalie exerted a good deal of energy Friday night at Hartwall Arena, frustrating the Chicago Blackhawks with a game-stealing 52 saves in a 4-3 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Hartwall Arena.
 
It's already confirmed that he will be right back at it in Saturday's rematch, just 21 hours after he made the last of his 53 saves Friday -- 47 in regulation, five in overtime and one in the shootout.

Perhaps Vokoun's best save -- and certainly the most dramatic in the first game of this two-game 2009 NHL Compuware Helsinki series -- was a desperate toe stop against Patrick Kane in the shootout.

That pretty toe save on Kane, who scored the game's first goal on a breakaway, kept the shootout tied at 1-1 and set the stage for Florida's Ville Koistinen to win the game in Hollywood fashion on the next shot.

"He's beaten me a couple times on the backhand and it's really tough to keep the angle down when he is really close, because he can get it over you so fast," Vokoun said. "So I was trying to forecheck him so he can't get it over me, and that kind of worked and I got it with my pad and that is all that matters."

Vokoun repeatedly made saves like that, getting to pucks he had no right keeping out of the net. Yes, Chicago scored twice in the third period, but they also launched 24 shots at the Czech goalie.

"We put pucks on the net and that’s what we want to do; get a lot of shots," Kane said. "Usually that wears down the other team’s goalie."
Not on this night it didn't.

In fact, Vokoun seemed to get stronger as the game went on. And for that reason, Florida coach Pete DeBoer is going right back to his No. 1 goalie in Saturday's rematch.

"He was great," DeBoer said. "Timely saves at key times. The shot clock was real high, but for me, it was the key saves he made. Chicago had a couple of opportunities to go up by two -- and game over -- and Vokoun would make a big save and give us a chance to hang around and get two points, which is what we did."

Chicago, meanwhile, isn't sure who will play goal on Saturday night.

Cristobal Huet, their No. 1, played Friday and was OK in defeat, allowing three goals on 24 shots. Afterward, Quenneville praised Huet, but admitted he could go to backup Antti Niemi, who is the only Finn on their roster.

The Hawks do know they need to do a better job of putting away some rebounds that were left by Vokoun and be more clinical in finishing on some other well-executed scoring plays.

"Finish around the net," Quenneville said when asked what his team can do better Saturday. "There were a lot of loose pucks in the last part of the game and we couldn’t get a handle on it. There were some dangerous scrambles where we couldn’t get the puck on our stick.
 
"He made a couple of key saves, looks like Kaner had a couple of great chances and he (Vokoun) looked quick moving. He played very well."

And Vokoun says he is ready for another onslaught Saturday from a deep and talented roster of Chicago forwards.
 
"It's not going to be any easier tomorrow," Vokoun said. "I'm there trying to stop the puck and sometime you can't control how may pucks you face. Either way, we won and that's all that matters me."










It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery