PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Vokoun hadn't started a Stanley Cup playoff game in six years. But the 36-year-old veteran goaltender didn't look the least bit rusty last night. Vokoun earned a shutout, stopping 31 shots as the Penguins beat the Islanders, 4-0, in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. His strong performance helped stake the Penguins to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, which heads back to the Nassau Coliseum for Game 6 tomorrow. - "It obviously feels good to win the game, and I think we played a good game," said Vokoun, a 14-year veteran who was named the game's No. 1 star after posting his second career playoff shutout. He entered with a 3-8 career mark in the playoffs.
Vokoun, who replaced struggling starter Marc-Andre Fleury, became the second goalie in Penguins history to register a shutout in his first playoff appearance. He joined Ron Tugnutt, who blanked the Capitals on April 13, 2000.
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"I'm here to help the team win," Vokoun said. "I don't care if I play one minute or every minute."
Vokoun, signed to a two-year, $4 million deal in the offseason, made 25 saves in the first two periods.
"Obviously, the 31 stops were big," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "I thought particularly in the first period and early in the second, he had a number of big stops. They had some good opportunities to score in the first period, and Vokoun made five really good saves.
"The save [Vokoun] made on [John] Tavares [in the second period] was huge and he was big down the stretch."
Although he declined to name his starting goalie for Game 6, Bylsma acknowledged that "[Vokoun] played pretty good, so . . . "
Vokoun's success against the Islanders shouldn't really come as that big of a surprise. He was 3-0 with an 0.90 goals-against average and .970 save percentage in four appearances (three starts) against the Islanders during the regular season.
Vokoun was 13-4 with a 2.45 GAA as Fleury's backup in the regular season. But Fleury was benched for Game 5 Thursday night after he allowed 14 goals in the three previous games against the Islanders.
Fleury did earn a shutout against the Islanders in Game 1, winning 5-0 at home.
"We didn't do a great job of helping Marc out the last few games and we wanted to make sure we did a better job in front of our goalie," said captain Sidney Crosby, who scored a spectacular goal for the Penguins during a three-goal second period. "I thought Tomas played well."