Darcy Kuemper scuffled early in the season. The former Av was plagued by bad bounces and a handful of tough goals. But the Capitals’ prized free agent signing over the offseason rebounded big time to finish the month of October with an impressive stat line.
Kuemper’s latest triumph came in a shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Halloween night. The 2022 Stanley Cup champion made 33 saves on 35 shots to finish the evening with a .943 save percentage. Kuemper stopped 12 of 14 high-danger chances he faced to keep the Caps in a game they probably should not have been in.
Kuemper was coming off the first shutout of his Capitals career – a 3-0 blanking of the Nashville Predators.
“I thought he was good,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. “Darcy, I thought, he was big the entire night. He played a spectacular game. They’re a shot-heavy team so they fire from all over, but with that comes deflections and just a lot of work and a lot of focus for a goaltender because there’s a lot of rubber coming at the net. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re scoring chances, but you’ve got to stay focused. I thought he did an unbelievable job from start to finish just staying in that game and battling through it. Really gave us a chance to win the hockey game.”
Kuemper ultimately earned the L in the shootout after being beaten at close range by Brent Burns and Andrei Svechnikov.
Kuemper’s big performance came after the Capitals’ learned they’d be without both TJ Oshie and John Carlson due to injury.
“It’s next man up mentality,” Kuemper said. “It’s going to take the whole team to replace the guys that are missing. So far we’ve been doing a good job of rallying together.”
Over the last three games, Kuemper has stopped 92 of the 96 shots he faced, good for a .958 save percentage. He’s also shooting back up Money Puck’s popular Goals Saved Above Expected stat. Heading into the game against the Hurricanes, he sat 11th overall in the league with 4 GSAE.
Kuemper finished the month of October with these dashboard stats:
.922 save percentage
2.36 goals against average
The Capitals got goals on the evening from Dylan Strome and Alex Ovechkin while the Hurricanes did from Stefan Noesen and Andrei Svechnikov. Ovechkin’s goal was the 785th of his career.
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