Michal Neuvirth has not started a game at the Verizon Center since Dec. 20. Hes gotten only two starts at home under Dale Hunter and was passed over for Hershey Bears callup Braden Holtby on Feb. 13.
Tonight, Neuvirth will be given another chance to plug a hole in a Capitals ship thats taking on water by the gallon when they face the visiting Montreal Canadiens.
Hunter said Neuvirth earned the start by playing well in relief of Tomas Vokoun in Wednesday nights 5-2 loss in Ottawa. Neuivirth turned aside all 14 shots he faced after replacing Tomas Vokoun, who allowed four goals on 11 shots.
I thought he played well, Hunter said. When he came in we gave up two breakaways on our power play and he stood tall and gave us a chance to come back and pull our goalie.
The Capitals goaltending has failed them in recent weeks. Neuvirth and Vokoun each have allowed long-range shots to slip past them during a stretch in which the Capitals have gone 1-5-1 in their last seven to fall four points behind the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.
Its a big part of the game, Hunter said. Its tight out there and youve got to get good goaltending if youre going to win. We need it just like every team needs it.
In other lineup news, defensemen Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine remained on the ice for extra work and are expected to be healthy scratches tonight.