Capitals’ Darcy Kuemper ‘came in with a purpose’ for shutout of Flames

Kuemper ‘came in with a purpose’ for shutout of Flames originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Darcy Kuemper has the Capitals’ confidence, nearly always receiving the opportunity to flush a bad night in goal by making the start the following game.

He got a chance just like that Friday. After an up-and-down performance Wednesday in a 3-2 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers that he took ownership for publicly, Kuemper came back the next game and delivered a 32-save shutout of the Calgary Flames to help the Capitals start their first winning streak in over a month.

“I thought he did an excellent job,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of Kuemper after the 3-0 victory. “We talked after the game the next day and he was disappointed. It’s always, oftentimes, through the course of the season it’s your goalie who bails you out in different ways. It was nice that the team got it done and we were able to win a hockey game. But in the same sense, I think a veteran goalie like that — that’s been around and knows how to be successful — he came in with a purpose today and did really well.”

Kuemper, 32, only allowed two goals against the Flyers on Wednesday, a total that should put any goalie in a position to leave the arena with a win. However, Washington appeared to be on its way to a 2-1 loss before winger Sonny Milano scored with three minutes to play and Alex Ovechkin netted the game-winner in overtime. He put the blame solely on himself for allowing each of those two goals.

“From my standpoint, obviously a couple bad bounces, bad goals — let’s call a spade a spade — they’re bad goals,” Kuemper said Wednesday. “For the guys to pick me up like that means a lot from my standpoint as well.”

The Capitals got the win anyway and turned right back to Kuemper for their next game against the Flames, a team the veteran netminder has dominated in his career. He put together his second shutout of the season and fourth ever against Calgary — his most of any opponent.

In true Kuemper fashion, he downplayed the impact of his previous performance on his mindset for Friday’s game.

“Tonight wasn’t about last game, it was about building off that win,” Kuemper said. “We’ve been talking about stringing a few wins together so that was the focus tonight just to come in and kind of do my job and help the team the best I can.”

Kuemper has done just that so far in his first season with the Capitals, and often. He leads all NHL goalies with 17 starts this year while sporting a .914 save percentage and 2.60 goals against average. As Laviolette alluded to, he has spent more time picking up his teammates than the other way around.

A Stanley Cup champion and 11-year NHL veteran, Kuemper has the confidence of his teammates to have the right mindset every game regardless of circumstances.

“It shows his ability to compete, his ability to let things go,” winger T.J. Oshie said of Kuemper’s outing Wednesday. “You need that in a No. 1 goaltender back there. We have all the confidence in the world in him, we see it every day and today was no different. I thought we slipped a little late in the third there, gave them a couple of chances, but I’m glad he ended up getting the shutout. He deserved it. He’s worked really hard.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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