Kuznetsov scores in shootout to lift Capitals over Hurricanes
Washington improved to 5-0 on the season in the second game of back-to-back sets.
“We’ve been in a few of these now of just grinding our way through where you can tell fatigue is a factor,” Washington coach Spencer Carbery said. “The penalty kill stepped up big. (Kuemper) was excellent. He made some massive saves for us and we found a way to win.”
The Capitals have earned at least a point in five of their past six games. They’ve been able to piece together points without a lot of production from star Alex Ovechkin, who hasn’t scored since Nov. 18.
“Structurally, we’re playing well,” Tom Wilson said. “It’s not always about winning games 6-5 and 7-4 and all that. We’re playing good and we feel good about our game. The goals will come.”
Both goalies were sharp early. Kochetkov stopped Wilson on a short-handed breakaway with 1:42 left in the first period. Kuemper robbed Jalen Chatfield early in the second period on a prime scoring chance.
Aho broke through for the game’s first goal on a feed from Seth Jarvis. Aho finished a shot from the slot at 7:41 in the second for the 1-0 lead.
Fehervary evened it at 1-1 at 11:33 in the second after a lead pass from Wilson. Fehervary was alone in the slot and beat Kochetkov to the glove side.
“I saw an opportunity to join the rush,” Fehervary said. “I was open. I saw that they were cutting off (Ovechkin), not surprised, so I just shot it and it went in.”
Kochetkov started for the fifth time in seven games after the Hurricanes assigned veteran goalie Antti Raanta to Chicago in the AHL on Sunday.
Raanta, whose .854 save percentage ranks last in the NHL, was waived on Saturday but went unclaimed. Yaniv Perets, an undrafted rookie, was called up from Norfolk in the ECHL to serve as the backup.
Since a four-game losing streak in early December, the Hurricanes have earned a point in four straight (2-0-2).
“We did everything we wanted to do, just didn’t score,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I thought we stuck with our gameplan really well and hit a few goalposts. Couple of inches here or there and it would have been a much different story.”
“The penalty kill has been giving us life all year,” Kuemper said. “To get a big four-minute kill to start the game like that, it kinda sets the tone for everybody else and everybody else feeds off of it.”
Capitals: Host the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
Hurricanes: Host Vegas on Tuesday night.
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