The Washington Capitals took the lead early in their game against the Arizona Coyotes and stayed ahead to claim a 4-0 win Thursday night. Former third-overall Arizona draft pick Dylan Strome led the team with two goals on four shots. Darcy Kuemper claimed his League-leading fifth shutout.
Center Nicklas Backstrom set the tone for the Capitals in the first 30 seconds with a drive to the net that generated two successive shots on Karel Vejmelka. Strome tallied on Washington’s fourth shot of the game with a deflection off Dmitry Orlov’s slap shot. Strome also finished the scoring on a tap-in with just over 11 minutes to play in the third period. Four of Strome’s goals have been tip-ins this season.
The Capitals scored twice within two minutes in the second period. Winger Sonny Milano found himself alone on the right side of the net after Backstrom and Tom Wilson forced a turnover below the Arizona goal line. Milano slingshot the puck into the net for his eighth goal of the season. Backstrom now has three assists in six games. Soon after, Wilson tipped another slapshot from Orlov past Vejmelka, this time on the power play. Washington had failed to score on 13 previous man advantages.
Washington controlled play on multiple dimensions. Its centers won 53% of the faceoffs, led by Lars Eller with a 67% win ratio. The Capitals had won eight of nine draws in the first nine minutes of play. Washington never trailed in shots or shot attempts. With just under 10 minutes to play, the Capitals had generated 22 scoring chances compared to only nine by the Coyotes. According to MoneyPuck.com, only three Washington skaters had a raw Corsi score below 50%. Most of the Coyotes finished with Corsi below that mark.
Both teams utilized a Coach’s Challenge, first when Eller appeared to score 5:21 into the middle period. The tally was taken back for goalkeeper interference because Eller leaned on Vejmelka. Early in the final frame, the Capitals challenged a would-be power-play goal for the Coyotes for offsides. The challenge was confirmed, preserving Kuemper’s shutout.
The Capitals will face the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern. On Thursday, the Golden Knights lost to the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2. Alex Pietrangelo and William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights.