Kuemper’s shutout leads Capitals over Predators 3-0
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves for his first shutout with Washington and the Capitals beat the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Saturday night.
Beck Malenstyn, Aliaksei Protas and Alex Ovechkin scored to help the Capitals win for the third time in four games.
“I was feeling good coming into the game about the way my game has been trending,” Kuemper said. “Tonight, the guys did a great job in front of me, so it made my job a lot easier.”
Juuse Saros made 32 saves for Nashville, which has lost six of seven.
“They didn’t go in for us in the second, but I was a little disappointed in our push in the third,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “I just didn’t feel like we went out to get after it and be able to get the goal back.”
Kuemper had to be sharp early, denying Yakov Trenin from in close just 13 seconds into the game. That was one of 11 saves for Kuemper in the opening period. A minute and a half into the third, he made a sweeping glove save on a one-timer off the stick of Predators captain Roman Josi.
It was the 26th career shutout for Kuemper, who had five last season with Colorado.
After a wide-open first period in which the teams combined for 27 shots but no goals, Malenstyn scored the first goal at 12:49 of the second.
On the right wall, Malenstyn poked the puck to Nic Dowd, who drove toward the Nashville net. Dowd found Malenstyn in the slot trailing the play, where he had an easy tap-in past Saros for his first goal this season and second of his NHL career.
“It’s just a great pass from (Dowd),” Malenstyn said. “Great deception. That was an easy one to put in, so I’ll take those any day of the week.”
Protas added an insurance goal at 6:44 of the third after finding a loose puck in front and slipping it by Saros. Ovechkin scored an empty-net goal with 2:45 remaining, his 16th career goal against Nashville.
Washington played most of the game without right wing T.J. Oshie and defenseman John Carlson, who both left in the first period with lower-body injuries.
Oshie played just two shifts totaling 1:51 of ice time before heading to the dressing room, with his second shift ending at the 5:55 mark of the first period. Carlson exited later in the period after playing six shifts with 3:38 of ice time.
“When you lose one player, it’s tough,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “You are swinging the bench in different ways. But you lose two players, one forward, one defenseman, and it’s pretty early on in the game, then you are really juggling it for the rest of the game. I thought our guys did an excellent job. We put a lot of minutes on guys and I thought they responded really well.”
Laviolette added that both injured players were being evaluated.
The Predators scored a power-play goal in each of their previous two games but came up empty in five opportunities with the man advantage Saturday.
Nashville entered the day with the NHL’s 28th-best power play, scoring just three times on 31 attempts.
Capitals: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.
Predators: Begin a five-game Western trip Tuesday at Edmonton.
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