Even if Marc-Andre Fleury is ready to return to the Penguins' starting lineup, it will be Tomas Vokoun making his third consecutive start in goal when the team looks to extend its winning streak to 16 games on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres, coach Dan Bylsma announced after the team's morning skate.
Fleury had to leave last Tuesday's game against Montreal with a neck injury following the second period after he was involved in a collision with his teammate, Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy was knocked into Fleury by Canadiens forward Brian Gionta as both players went to the net.
Vokoun came on in relief that night and completed the shutout, stopping all 12 shots he faced. He's started the following two games and recorded a shutout in both -- a 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets last Thursday and a 2-0 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Given how well Vokoun has played in Fleury's absence, it probably shouldn't be a huge surprise that Bylsma is sticking with him, even if Fleury is ready to return.
This is, after all, why the Penguins acquired Vokoun -- one of the better starting goalies in the NHL over the past seven years -- this past summer and gave him a two-year, $4 million contract extension. They wanted a reliable backup who could step in and start several games in a row if needed. But the Penguins also didn't want Fleury playing almost every night like he did a year ago.
Vokoun didn't have a great start to his Penguins career but has been rock solid over the past month, winning seven straight decisions. He's allowed just four goals in his past seven appearances (five starts, two relief appearances) and hasn't allowed a goal in over 160 minutes of hockey dating back to the March 22 game in New York.