Kuemper makes 32 saves as surging Capitals down Rangers 4-0

NEW YORK (AP) — Marcus Johansson, defenseman Erik Gustafsson and Lars Eller scored, and Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves as the surging Washington Capitals downed the New York Rangers 4-0 on Tuesday night for their sixth-straight road win.

Conor Sheary added a short-handed empty-net goal for the Capitals, who have won 10 of their last 11 games and are 13-3-1 since Nov. 23.

“Everyone has been on the same page, and we are having success,” said Kuemper, who registered his third shutout this season and the 28th of his career. “This was a great team win.”

Kuemper improved to 7-1-0 in eight career games against the Rangers. The 32-year-old netminder helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup last spring before signing a five-year contract with the Capitals in July.

Washington had a 5-on-3 advantage eight minutes into the contest after Ryan Lindgren and Chris Kreider were penalized for the Rangers within 21 seconds. Washington quickly cashed in when Johansson tapped a loose puck past Igor Shesterkin at 8:44 for his ninth goal of the season. Assists went to Evgeny Kuznetsov and Gustafsson.

Gustafsson then made it 2-0 with his fifth goal of the season — all in the past five games — at 17:01 of the second.

Gustafsson has 19 points (five goals and 14 assists) in 36 games, second among Capitals defensemen behind John Carlson, who was struck in the face with a puck during Friday’s home win over Winnipeg.

“I was just trying to follow up and the puck came to me. That was a big goal,” said Gustafsson. “That was a big road win for us.”

Eller increased the lead to 3-0 at 19:23 of the second with his seventh of the season.

“We respect the game. We stick to our plan,” said Eller. “And we’ve been scoring more goals five-on-five. That really tilts it in our favor and helps us win games.”

The Capitals are the only team in the NHL with two goaltenders with at least 10 wins. Charlie Lindgren, whose brother Ryan Lindgren is a stalwart defenseman for the Rangers, is 10-4-2 in his first season with Washington.

“We’re playing the game the way we want to play and the right way,” said Kuemper, who improved to 10-9-2 this season.

Tuesday’s game was Washington’s seventh against a Metropolitan Division opponent this season and their first against the Rangers. The Capitals are 4-2-1 in those division contests.

“I thought everyone chipped in if you look at the way the scoring was dished around,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “And Darcy was really good in net.”

The Rangers were coming off a 5-3 home win over the Islanders on Thursday before the Christmas break.

“We know what kind of team we can be and that wasn’t us,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “They are good team. They forecheck and forced us to turn pucks over.”

New York had won eight of nine and four straight at home but were flat against the disciplined Capitals.

“One team showed up ready to win a hockey game and one team didn’t,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We looked sloppy. We had a bad game. Give credit to the team over there. They played the right way and battled for 60 minutes.”

NOTES: Washington defensemen have combined for 22 goals this season … The Capitals are 20-1-1 when scoring three or more goals this season … Washington’s six-straight road wins ties a franchise record also accomplished in 1984 and 2011 … The teams meet again March 14 in New York, and Feb. 25 and April 2 in Washington.

Up Next:

Rangers: Visit Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Capitals: Host Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

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