Zatkoff to make NHL debut tonight in Florida

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Jeff Zatkoff may only be in the NHL because of Tomas Vokoun’s health issues, but Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby doesn’t think the Penguins need to play in an overly protective fashion when the 26-year-old goalie makes his debut tonight in Florida versus the Panthers.

“I think he’s a good goalie,” Crosby said, per TribLIVE.com. “You don’t want to leave him hung out to dry or anything, but honestly, I don’t think we need to change the way we’re playing when he gets in there. He’s been good. He looks calm.”

Zatkoff has put up good numbers in the AHL. He had a .920 save percentage last season in 49 appearances for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Hence, general manager Ray Shero’s decision to see what Zatkoff can do, as opposed to acquiring a veteran backup for Marc-Andre Fleury while Vokoun is out.

While tonight’s start against Florida may seem like a relatively easy one, it’s worth noting that this is the home-opener for a Panthers team that’s actually played pretty well in two of its first four games. The Panthers managed 39 shots in beating Dallas, 4-2, last week and 34 in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.