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Blood clot sidelines Penguins' Vokoun indefinitely

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By Josh Yohe
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
 

Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun is out indefinitely after undergoing a procedure Saturday to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis.

Vokoun practiced with the Penguins on Saturday morning at Consol Energy Center. He left when he noticed swelling in his thigh.

The 37-year-old goaltender was taken to a local emergency room, where it was determined that an operation to dissolve the clot was required immediately.

“He's resting comfortably now,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said.

With Vokoun almost certainly unavailable to begin the season, the Penguins will turn to goaltender Jeff Zatkoff — who has never played in an NHL game — as starter Marc-Andre Fleury's backup.

Fleury, who worked with a sports psychologist this summer following another playoff flameout, has struggled in the preseason. He allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced against Columbus and possesses a 3.64 goals-against average and an .829 save percentage.

Shero didn't give Fleury a ringing endorsement when asked about his off-ice work during the past few months.

“It's been OK,” Shero said. “A work in progress.”

Vokoun ignited the Penguins to playoff victories against the Islanders and Senators this past postseason when he replaced Fleury.

During that playoff run, Vokoun spoke candidly about a health scare he endured while with the Predators in 2006. Vokoun missed significant time during the 2005-06 season and was diagnosed with pelvic thrombophlebitis.

An MRI found multiple blood clots in Vokoun's pelvic and abdominal region. They eventually dissolved, and he was able to play at the beginning of the following season.

Shero, who was the assistant general manager in Nashville at the time, said he asked doctors whether Vokoun's current problem is related to the previous issues.

“It's just too early to say,” Shero said.

Fleury will have to carry the load for the foreseeable future, Shero said.

“If Tomas is going to be out for a little while,” he said, “it's going to be a situation where Marc has to step up.”

Note: Jussi Jokinen recorded a hat trick and the Penguins carried the play during most of Saturday's exhibition game against Columbus, but the Blue Jackets emerged with a 5-3 victory at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins are 1-3 this preseason and play at home Monday against the Blackhawks.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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