Caps blank Rangers 4-0, Kuemper stops all 32 shots in win

The Capitals won their fifth straight game against the New York Rangers tonight on the strength of a sound team defensive effort and Darcy Kuemper’s 32 saves. This was the first of the scheduled four meetings with the Rangers, who are competing with the Capitals for the wild card playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. It was also the first game without John Carlson who was announced as being out indefinitely after taking a shot to the side of his head in the game before the holiday break.

Marcus Johansson pushed in a power play goal to give the Capitals the lead at 8:44. They were the beneficiaries of two consecutive calls and thus had a 5-on-3 advantage. From there the Capitals played a successful counterpunching game against New York. The Rangers had a total of five power play chances and Washington killed off all of them. Kuemper had perfect positioning on nearly all of the Rangers’ scoring chances. Where he didn’t, his teammates provided the perfect cover as they wither blocked shots (16 in total) or cut off the passing and shooting lanes on second chance situations.

Late in the second period, the Capitals got an odd-man rush after the Rangers’ Vincent Trocheck was hit by a slapshot and could not get off the ice quickly enough. Conor Sheary found Erik Gustafsson in the slot but put in a shot against Igor Shersterkin. Gustafsson buried the rebound over Shesterkin’s blocker glove at 17:01 for the two-goal lead. Towards the end of the period, Lars Eller took a pass from Anthony Mantha, gained the zone, and shot the puck through defenseman Jacob Trouba’s screen past Shesterkin for the 3-0 lead at 19:23 of the second period.

In the final period, The Caps successfully killed off three Ranger power plays, the last two coming in the final five minutes of the game. The Capitals also benefitted from many of the Rangers’ shots toward the net being far off target. Sheary finalized the scoring with an empty net goal at 16:58.

NOTES—Eller’s goal gave him 362 points for his career, putting him second all-time among Danish-born NHL players. Nick Jensen took a shot to the face late in the game and did not return. Coach Peter Laviolette pronounced him as “fine” during his post-game press conference. The Capitals’ next game is scheduled for Thursday the 29th back at CapitalOne Arena against Ottawa, start time is 7 PM ET.

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