by Craig D. Schroepfer (@CDSWCCO)
Darcy Kuemper hasn’t had many chances to play this season.
When you are backing up goaltender Devan Dubnyk, you are going to have a great view of the action while knowing your opportunity to play will be few and far between. However, when that opportunity presents itself you have to capitalize and the 26-year-old Minnesota Wild goaltender did just that on Thursday night.
Kuemper stopped 34 of 35 shots, helping Minnesota to a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars. It was the 38th win of the season for the Wild, tying last years win total.
“I’ve been feeling good in my last few starts.” Kuemper said after the game. “It’s easier to stay in a rhythm and feel comfortable right from the drop of the puck. With the schedule coming up it looks like that’s going to be happening more frequently.”
Kuemper was tested early on by Dallas, turning away all 13 shots that he faced in the 1st period. His play in the first period help set the tone for the game as the Wild seemed to be a little out of sync at the start.
“We knew they would come out with a big push.” Kuemper said. “The play was in our end but we were defending well. We didn’t give them a lot of chances and lot of time to make good plays. Sometimes as a team you aren’t going to feel real good at the start but as long as you defend the way we did we are going to be all right.”
Minnesota would get Kuemper the lead at the end of the 1st period when Ryan Suter scored on the power play with 00.8 seconds, giving the Wild a 1-0 lead. Erik Haula and Jared Spurgeon also scored goals for Minnesota while Cody Eakin had the only goal of the night for Dallas, spoiling the shutout bid for Kuemper.
It was Kuemper’s seventh win of the season and his effort didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.
“It so good to see him play that well.” Erik Haula said. “You need two good goalies and you never know what’s going to happen. It’s always good that he has his confidence up and if need be can step in there at anytime.”
Head coach Bruce Boudreau added “I thought by far Kuemper was our best player tonight. He finally got rewarded for the effort he’s been putting in practice. We have faith in him.”
With the win, Kuemper is now 7-3-3 on the year with a goals-against-average of 3.05 and a save percentage of .910. Kuemper has shown a lot of promise in the past and Thursday’s game against Dallas shows how good he really can be. With 25 games left on the schedule, Kuemper is sure to see a few more opportunities to play. Judging by Thursday’s performance, it looks like Kuemper will be ready.