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GOTTA SEE IT: Vanecek Makes History, Blanks Cup Champion Avalanche



Washington Capitals

Vitek Vanecek was surprised when the Washington Capitals traded him to the New Jersey Devils while going for a goaltending overhaul, but he has since been working to make the Garden State his home while fighting for the starting job with Mackenzie Blackwood. He had a shaky start to his tenure with the Devils, but on Friday, he made quite the mark against the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

Vanecek dominated between the pipes, stopping all 24 shots against Nathan Mackinnon and company for a shutout in a 1-0 win over Colorado. He is just the second goaltender in franchise history to shut out the Avalanche, joining Martin Brodeur, who did it four times.

The Czech netminder also came up with quite a few big saves while taking over the net for an injured Blackwood, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

In four games for New Jersey, Vanecek has a .889 save percentage and 2.40 GAA. He now has seven career shutouts and his first with his new team. On Monday, he got to play in the third period against his former Capitals in relief of Blackwood. He stopped six of seven shots, surrendering a goal in the final frame to former teammate Aliaksei Protas.

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Seeing Common Theme Amid Rough Start

After finishing his D.C. tenure with a .908 save percentage in back-to-back seasons, Vanecek was traded to the Devils at the draft in exchange for two picks. The trade came the weekend of his wedding. In addition to letting go of Vanecek, the Capitals also chose not to qualify Ilya Samsonov, who hit free agency and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Washington replaced the young tandem with Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren.

“Honestly I was thinking about, they want to try to change something because two years and then we lost in the playoffs in the first round. So I was a little bit thinking who will get out of the team. I thought one will stay in the Washington and then one will go somewhere else,” Vanecek said after the trade. “But they make a change, you know? They trade me and they not give qualifying contract for Samsonov. So I was a little bit surprised about that but, yeah.”