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Takeaways: Kuemper, Depleted Capitals Go Distance, But Fall To Hurricanes

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Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals were no strangers to the situation they were put in on Halloween night, as they entered PNC Arena without a myriad of stars, now including T.J. Oshie and John Carlson. Several guys stepped up — mainly Darcy Kuemper — as Washington had enough in the tank to go the distance, but they couldn’t finish the job against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Capitals got goals from Alex Ovechkin and Dylan Strome but fell 3-2 in the shootout. They didn’t leave empty-handed though, taking a point as they head back home.

It was the first extra-time experience and loss for the club this season. The Capitals are now 5-4-1 and in the second Wild Card spot. The red-hot Hurricanes lead the Metro with a 6-2-1 record.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Darcy Kuemper Comes To Rescue For Undisciplined Washington Capitals, Who Fall In Shootout

It wasn’t a great start for Washington, who surrendered the first goal of the game for the seventh time this season. Carolina piled on the pressure and tilted the ice in its direction for the majority of the night. Kuemper was the one who came to the rescue.

The 32-year-old netminder, fresh off his first shutout with the Capitals, was huge between the pipes. He came up with a handful of huge saves, including several on the late penalty kill in regulation and a late PK in overtime, to keep the team in it and guarantee at least a point and take the game the distance to the shootout.

As the Capitals took eight penalties and put the Hurricanes on the power play six times, Kuemper put on a show to carry Washington to a shootout. Carolina was 1-for-6 on the man advantage. He stopped one of three shots, and Evgeny Kuznetsov was the lone scorer for D.C. in the skills competition, leading to the loss.

Ultimately, Kuemper finished with 33 saves on 35 shots (.943 save percentage). He is looking more confident with each game and has a .922 SV% with his new club so far.

Stars & Defensemen Help Washington Capitals With Oshie, Carlson Out

With Oshie not available, Strome and Ovechkin rose to the occasion, getting on the scoresheet for Washington.

Conor Sheary had a great keep in the offensive zone, and Jensen was there to pick it up. No. 3 saw a shooting lane and fired, and Strome was in front to pick up the rebound. It marked his second goal of the season, and Jensen now has a team-leading six assists to open the season. Sheary, meanwhile, has points in three of his last four games.

With Carlson on the shelf, the blue line saw quite a few changes and did a decent job at both ends.

Both Nick Jensen and Erik Gustafsson were difference makers on offense as both picked up helpers with some great finesse.

Conor Sheary had a great keep-in in the offensive zone, and Jensen was there to pick it up. No. 3 saw a shooting lane and fired, and Strome was in front to pick up the rebound.

Then, on the second goal, Gustafsson was in the Carlson spot on the power play and put the puck on a platter for Alex Ovechkin, who struck from the office for his fifth goal of the season and second in as many games. It was also career goal No. 785 for the Great 8, who is also one goal shy of tying Gordie Howe for the most goals with one franchise in NHL history.

In their own end, the units still stepped up in front of a busy Kuemper, even though there were some odd-man breaks and high-danger situations. Trevor van Riemsdyk looked solid on the top pairing with Dmitry Orlov, but Jensen was the true first star. He led the team with 26:02 minutes and four blocks.  The Capitals blocked 20 shots, while the Hurricanes blocked only seven.

Matt Irwin was also decent in his season debut alongside Gustafsson. Through 11 minutes also got a couple of good scoring chances and helped contribute to the pressure in the offensive zone with Gustafsson.

Additional Washington Capitals Ice Chips

  • Connor McMichael didn’t do much to put himself on the radar in just 6:43 minutes of ice time, as he was a minus-1 and also had a bad giveaway that led to a break going the other way.
  • Martin Fehervary led the team with five shots.
  • Nic Dowd led with six hits.
  • Strome, Sheary, Ovechkin and Jensen are now tied for the team lead in scoring with each dishing seven points in 10 games.
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