Kuemper makes 26 saves, Capitals blank Coyotes

TEMPE, Ariz. — Darcy Kuemper made 26 saves in his fifth shutout of the season for the Washington Capitals in a 4-0 win against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena on Thursday.

Kuemper has the most shutouts in the NHL this season and 30 in his career. He is also 6-1-3 with four shutouts in his career against the Coyotes, who he played for from 2018-21.

“Really good, really good,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said of Kuemper. “Sometimes it’s tough in those games where there’s not a lot of volume and not that much coming at you. … But, at the end, they were pushing and pressing, he had to make some saves and I thought he looked really good.”

Video: [email protected]: Kuemper stops 26 Coyotes’ shots

Dylan Strome scored twice, Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist, and Dmitry Orlov and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had two assists for the Capitals (25-17-6), who have won nine of 10 on the road.

Karel Vejmelka made 29 saves for the Coyotes (14-26-5), who lost their 10th in 11 games (1-10-0).

“Everybody wants to win and turn this around, but it’s easier said than done,” Arizona defenseman Troy Stecher said. “We’ve got to dig deep here and start showing up with a purpose. Things aren’t just handed over to you. You don’t get wins easily.”

Strome gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 3:03 of the first period by redirecting Orlov’s shot from the point under Vejmelka’s stick. Strome was the No. 3 pick by Arizona at the 2015 NHL Draft.

“We talked about that, we wanted to clean up in front of the net and give our goalies a chance to make the save,” Strome said. “We’ve been giving up some goals like that, so it’s nice to get them the other way when we tip and screen their goalie. It’s never fun for a goalie, and I’m happy we did that tonight.”

Video: [email protected]: Strome gives Capitals early lead in 1st

The Capitals, who had lost three of four (1-3-0), scored twice in 1:09 late in the second period to take a three-goal lead.

Sonny Milano made it 2-0 at 17:32 after Wilson, strong on the forecheck, slid a pass to him across the slot.

“In the right spot at the right time,” Milano said. “I got the puck back on the forecheck and just got open and got it off my stick as fast as I could.”

Wilson extended the lead to 3-0 at 18:41 after a deflection of Orlov’s shot from above the face-off circles trickled across the goal line for Washington’s first power-play goal in seven games. The Capitals had been 0-for-14 with the man-advantage since Jan. 5.

Video: [email protected]: Wilson increases Capitals’ lead in 2nd

Barrett Hayton appeared to cut into the lead with a power-play goal at 1:06 of the third period, but Laviolette successfully challenged that the Coyotes were offside.

“Our breakouts aren’t good enough, our forecheck isn’t good enough, our neutral zone forecheck isn’t good enough,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “It’s not that there’s a lack of desire by our players but, for whatever reason, we’re not as emotionally engaged and intense. … We need to find another gear.”

Strome scored at 8:41 for the 4-0 final, his third goal in two games.

“I guess tomorrow the sun will go up and we’ll find some positives, but tonight, it’s frustration,” Tourigny said.

The Coyotes went on the power play twice early in the third but couldn’t score and finished 0-for-3.

“We had a few kills and we had to take care of starting right from the drop of the puck in the third, and the guys did a great job,” Kuemper said. “I was able to see the shots they got, and we were able to keep them at bay, keep them from getting life to get back into the game.”

NOTES: Wilson’s goal was his second in six games after missing the first three months of the season following knee surgery. … Lars Eller‘s apparent goal for Washington that would have made it 2-0 in the second also was overturned on a coach’s challenge of goalie interference. … Capitals forward Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch for the fourth time in six games. … Washington forward Alex Ovechkin, who did not score, has one goal in his past seven games after scoring seven over the previous four. … Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse did not play because of an upper-body injury and is day to day. … Arizona is 1-4-0 in its past five home games.

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