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Darcy Kuemper, Caps blank Rangers for 5th straight win

Dec 27, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) battles for the puck against Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9) and defenseman Nick Jensen (3) in front of goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves and the surging Washington Capitals scored twice in the final 2:59 of the second period to pull away for a 4-0 victory over the host New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

The Capitals matched a season high with their fifth straight win and won for the 10th time in 11 games thanks to Kuemper, who posted his third shutout of the season and the 28th of his career.

Alex Ovechkin remained at 802 career goals after passing Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time list on Friday. The superstar contributed to Washington’s latest win by drawing the holding penalty on New York’s Chris Kreider that gave the Capitals a five-on-three power play, leading to Marcus Johansson’s first period goal.

Erik Gustafsson and Lars Eller scored for the Capitals, who also are 13-3-1 in their past 17. Conor Sheary added a short-handed, empty-net tally with 3:02 remaining. Gustafsson and Sheary also had one assist apiece.

New York lost for the second time in three games following a seven-game winning streak. The Rangers missed the net 23 times and also had 16 shots blocked while being blanked for the second time this season and getting booed off the ice after the final buzzer.

Kuemper made 13 saves on five New York power plays and improved to 7-1-0 in eight career starts against the Rangers. He made 13 saves in the first period, seven in the second and 12 in the third.

New York’s Igor Shesterkin stopped 26 shots.

With the Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren in the penalty box for slashing in the first period, Kreider was penalized for holding Ovechkin in the right faceoff circle. Washington then went ahead at 8:44 on a fluky play in front of the net.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s shot from the slot was stopped by Shesterkin but not controlled to create a faceoff. The puck caromed to the right side of the crease, and Johansson was credited with the rebound goal when the puck banked off New York defenseman Jacob Trouba’s stick.

The Capitals took a 2-0 lead when Gustafsson scored off a rush at 17:01 of the second period. He trailed the play as Shesterkin was unable to control the rebound of a shot by Sheary and sent the puck over the goalie’s stick.

After the Rangers lost a challenge for goaltender interference on Sheary and Gustafsson’s goal was allowed, Eller made it 3-0 by putting the puck under Trouba’s legs and past Shesterkin from the middle of the slot with 37 seconds left in the middle period.

–Field Level Media