Penguins rookie Jeff Zatkoff to get first NHL start

Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has answered some of the critics with his strong start to the 2013-14 NHL season. Now we will get to see how his backup fares.

Sep 23, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff (37) makes a save as Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) looks for a rebound during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed that rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff will make his NHL debut either Friday or Saturday when his undefeated Penguins travel to Florida for games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Zatkoff has earned the opportunity.

He has put up good numbers during multiple seasons in the AHL. The 26-year-old won the job as the Pens’ backup after it was learned veteran Tomas Vokoun would be out 3-6 months with a blood-clot issue.

Fleury will get the start in net the other game, but with games on back-to-back nights, it will be interesting to see how Zatkoff performs.

Before Vokoun was sidelined, the Penguins goaltending situation was viewed as a real strength of the team. Hopefully for Penguins fans Zatkoff can play good enough when he is called upon to keep it a position of strength on the big roster.

In other Penguins news, defenseman Kris Letang, out with a lower body injury, skated for an hour on Wednesday and will fly with the team to Florida. However he won’t be a candidate to return to the lineup until he makes it through a full practice or two.

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Topics: Dan Bylsma, Jeff Zatkoff, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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