Darcy Kuemper to start against Senators after missing eight games with upper-body injury

Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced this goaltender during his pre-game media session Thursday Darcy Kumper will be the Caps’ starter against the Ottawa Senators.

Kuemper has not started a game since his injury in a December 3 matchup with the Calgary Flames. He has missed eight games since then. Charlie Lindgren, the Caps’ starter for those eight games, will serve as Kuemper’s backup in Ottawa.

“I look forward to seeing him pick up where he left off,” said Laviolette said Thursday. “He played really well. It was unfortunate timing what happened. He has been very good to us throughout the year. I’m sure he’s looking forward to getting back in there.”

Kümper will be busy after Lindgren starred in his absence. In those eight starts, Lindgren led 7-1 with a 2.00 goal average and a .930 save percentage and was awarded the first NHL Star of the Week for the week ending December 11.

“He burned in there,” said Kuemper on Wednesday about his netminding partner. “I think the team really cared about that. I was super happy for him, happy for our group. We need the points. It was nice to see the guys play a part.”

The Capitals have a back-to-back with travel that begins against the Senators and ends Friday against the Winnipeg Jets in DC. Kuemper will win the first half of those games against a Sens team he’s played 5-2 against in his career with a 2.68 goal average and a .916 save percentage.

“I’m happy to be back on the ice,” added Kuemper. “It’s never fun to watch. A little easier when the team played so well and had so much success. You don’t feel guilty for not being out there helping. Nice to be healthy again, feeling good and ready to play.

“You just have to get back out there and play again,” he continued. “It’s a bit like riding a bike. Trust the process, don’t think about it and just go ahead and play. Make sure you do what makes you successful.”

In 20 starts this season for the Caps, Kuemper is 8-9-2 with a 2.56 clean sheet average and a .916 save percentage. He has kept 3.9 goals above expectations this season, according to MoneyPuck.

Laviolette also announced center Nic Dowd will get dressed after missing Wednesday’s practice with a non-COVID illness. Defender Alex Alexeyev is also no longer listed on the team’s injured reserve, meaning he is eligible to play in Ottawa.

Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB