By Ian Oland
Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek made the start against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, but only lasted 6:43 into the first period due to injury.
Vanecek was crashed into by Penguins forward Kasperi Kapanen in front of the net. The Czech goaltender then lost his balance, slid backward, and slammed the back of his head against the goal frame.
Penguins right winger Kasperi Kapanen collides with Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek in the first period Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena. pic.twitter.com/knjHba7sGf
— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) February 2, 2022
NBC Sports Washington showed a replay that appeared to show a concussion spotter come down the tunnel to the Capitals bench to request Vanecek be pulled out of the game. But it’s unclear if that’s what happened or Vanecek removed himself out of his own accord.
Ilya Samsonov replaced Vanecek in net.
The Capitals PR later announced at the start of the second period that Vanecek would not return.
INJURY UPDATE: #Caps goaltender Vitek Vanecek (upper body) will not return to tonight’s game. Hunter Shepard will serve as the emergency backup goaltender.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 2, 2022
Vanecek faced five shots and surrendered a power-play goal to Evgeni Malkin. VV had been playing some of his best hockey of late and had started seven of the Capitals’ last nine games.
Vanecek posted his fourth career shutout on January 28 against Dallas.
Hunter Shepard, who has been traveling with the Capitals on its taxi squad, served as the emergency backup goalie during the game.
Vanecek will get a long break to recover before he’s tasked to start again. The Capitals play the Edmonton Oilers in a back-to-back on Wednesday – a game he was unlikely to start anyway – before having five days off before their next game due to the All-Star Break.
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