WASHINGTON (AP) Keith Kinkaid got plenty of pucks to break in his new pads and put them to good use in winning a rare start.
The backup goaltender made 43 saves and stopped two attempts in the shootout, helping the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Thursday night. Playing in just his ninth game of the season and for the first time since Dec. 17, Kinkaid had one of the best outings of his career.
”He was amazing,” said forward PA Parenteau, who scored the Devils’ only goal in regulation. ”I wouldn’t go as far as stolen the game but pretty close. He was sensational out there.”
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With his father, John, watching with the other Devils players’ dads from a suite, Kinkaid led the way as New Jersey snapped a seven-game skid against Washington. Michael Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson, who returned from a five-game absence with a concussion, scored in the shootout as the Devils beat the Capitals for the first time since Nov. 14, 2014.
Kinkaid robbed Matt Niskanen with his blocker, Daniel Winnik at the side of the net, Jay Beagle on a short-handed breakaway and Alex Ovechkin with his right pad before making five saves in the final 35 seconds of the second period to carry a shutout into the third. Winnik’s short-handed goal early in the third was the only thing that kept Kinkaid from his third career shutout.
Braden Holtby made 26 saves as the Capitals outshot the Devils 44-27. New Jersey’s penalty kill went 4 for 4 and its defensive structure was good in front of Kinkaid.
”It’s a lot of shots, but I think our guys did a good job of keeping them to the outside, letting me see them,” said Kinkaid, who earned his 42nd NHL victory. ”Sometimes the shot totals don’t tell the story, but that was a fun game to play.”
Parenteau’s goal was his fourth in six games since sitting out twice as a healthy scratch. His 10th goal of the season came off a brutal turnover from Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, but Parenteau was active all game.
”Credit to him: He understood why we scratched him, and we had a discussion about it,” coach John Hynes said. ”I think he recognized some things in his play needed to be better and to his credit he’s come back, he learned his lesson and he’s been a factor for us since he’s been back in the lineup.”
Holtby couldn’t do much to stop Parenteau’s shot immediately off the turnover, and as good as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was, his teammates couldn’t crack Kinkaid at the other end.
”Over 40 shots usually will get it done but it wasn’t good enough tonight for whatever reason,” Capitals winger Justin Williams said. ”I expect a lot from this group and everybody does also, so whenever we lose it’s certainly never enough and there’s never any silver lining. We expect to win every game and one goal usually doesn’t do it.”
Not when Kinkaid was as sharp as he was in an unusual spot start in place of regular starter Cory Schneider. The 27-year-old undrafted free agent from Long Island said it was one of the five best games he has played in the NHL and one of the most important for the Devils, who had lost nine of their past 10 games.
”I think the whole team needed that,” Kinkaid said. ”That could change the season.”
NOTES: Devils LW Taylor Hall missed the game with a lower-body injury the team said is unrelated to the torn meniscus in his left knee that caused him to miss two weeks in November. … Rookie Czech forwards Jakub Vrana of the Capitals and Pavel Zacha of the Devils were healthy scratches. Each player had no points in five games.
The Devils host the Capitals in the second half of the home-and-home series Saturday in Newark.
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno .