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Vanecek Had This To Say After Beating, Nearly Shutting Out Former Capitals



Washington Capitals

Prior to facing off against his former Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek knew it was going to be a special night. And despite nerves, he came into Saturday’s game on a mission: to defeat his former club and prove them wrong after they traded him this offseason.

Vanecek did just that, stopping 38 of 39 shots in arguably his best performance of the season to lead his Devils to a 5-1 victory over the Capitals, who had 81 shot attempts throughout the game.

“I mean i was a little bit nervous before the game. It was a special thing, to play vs. the caps for the first time, so it was something special,” Vanecek said. “I know they are a really good team, but I try everything what i can to help the team win the game.”

Washington moved on from Vanecek, as well as Ilya Samsonov, this offseason after two years with them as the team’s tandem. Neither could take the reins and steal the full-time job as the No. 1 goaltender, and for Brian MacLellan and the Capitals, they “ran out of time to wait” for Vanecek and Samsonov to find their footing, as the core was aging and the Stanley Cup window was closing.

So, MacLellan traded Vanecek to the Devils for picks, and then elected not to qualify Samsonov, who hit free agency and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team then signed Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren to take over the crease.

READ MORE ON WHN: Takeaways & What To Know From Washington Capitals’ 5-1 Loss To New Jersey Devils

After being traded to New Jersey, Vanecek signed a three-year extension to provide some stability with Mackenzie Blackwood. And despite a shaky start to his tenure in Newark, he’s says the city’s becoming home.

“Honestly, I feel like that right now,” Vanecek said.

While No. 41 fell short of the shutout after a late power-play goal from John Carlson, he was still happy to keep captain and former teammate Alex Ovechkin off the scoresheet. Ovechkin had eight shots and 17 attempts, and he had the chance to make Vanecek the 165th goaltender he’s scored on. Vanecek even said after being traded that he wanted to “stop everything” the Great 8 threw at him.

“Actually, Ovi’s really good player, but I know that. In the practice, it’s different like in the game like in the game he trying more,” Vanecek said. “I know he want to score on me, so I was really focused to try and stop everything.”

With regard to not getting the shutout against his former club, Vanecek didn’t linger on it too much. He was just happy to get the “W”

“That would be nice but that’s okay you know?” Vanecek smiled. “For sure you’re trying but not every time. For sure [the win is more important].”