Jason Chimera scored at 2:31 of overtime, lifting Columbus to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night. Chimera beat Nikolai Khabibulin between the legs with a shot from the right circle to complete a 2-on-1 break with Manny Malhotra against rookie defenceman Cam Barker.
Chimera had no intention of dishing the puck to Malhotra on the play, which started out as a 3-on-1 following a Blackhawks turnover just inside the Chicago zone.
“It was good the puck turned over,” Chimera said. “But it was rolling all the way, so there was no way to pass.
“I decided to shoot it.”
Although Chimera converted an odd-man break, his winner was one of several soft goals against Khabibulin, who stopped only 13 shots in his 19th straight start.
Khabibulin was solid through the first half of the season but might be getting tired.
“It could be,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “I’ll talk to him about it.”
The Blue Jackets, 0-3-1 in their last four games, and coach Ken Hitchcock weren’t worried about recording a stylish win.
“We needed to get something out of the hard work,” Hitchcock said. “That was more important than the artistic part of it.
“The last three games we played great and we got one point. Today wasn’t near as artistic, but we’ll take it.”
Sergei Fedorov, Rostislav Klesla, Joe Motzko and Fredrik Modin scored in regulation for the Blue Jackets, who trailed 3-1 in the second period but rallied to take a 4-3 lead late in the third.
Motzko’s goal was his first in the NHL.
Bryan Smolinski had two goals for Chicago, which lost its seventh straight. His second, with 1:33 left in regulation, forced overtime. Patrick Sharp and Jim Vandermeer also scored in regulation for the Blackhawks.
“It was a solid effort,” Smolinski said. “A couple of mistakes cost us.
“It’s nothing we can’t fix.”
Still, Chicago blew a 3-1 lead for the second straight game. Columbus tied it late in the second period when Klesla and Motzko scored 1:20 apart.
The Blackhawks failed on their three power-play chances and have converted only three of 47 advantages.
“You make one mistake and it’s in your net,” Savard said. “It was a tough loss because we played real hard and really gave up the points.”
Fredrik Norrena started in goal for Columbus, but was pulled for the second straight game after allowing three goals on 15 shots. Ty Conklin replaced him at 9:12 of the second period and permitted one goal on 13 shots.
“It’s a change of momentum,” Hitchcock said. “We had to do something. “You’re down 3-1 on the road.”
Conklin relieved Norrena at the start of the second in the Blue Jackets’ 4-1 loss to Nashville on Saturday after Norrena gave up three goals on nine shots.
Fedorov, who had missed three games with an elbow injury, opened the scoring 4:25 into the first.
Sharp tied it 23 seconds later, jamming in a rebound of his shot from the left circle between Norrena’s pads.
Smolinski gave Chicago a 2-1 lead at 4:37 of the second. Vandermeer’s first goal of the season made it 3-1 at 9:12.
Klesla beat Khabibulin high on the glove side with a 55-foot shot with 4:58 left in the second – four seconds after a Chicago penalty expired – to cut it to 3-2.
Motzko, playing his 10th NHL game, fooled Khabibulin with a wrist shot to tie it 1:20 later.
Modin scored with 5:56 left in regulation to give Columbus a 4-3 lead, but Smolinski’s second goal tied it again.
Notes: To make room for Fedorov on the roster, the Blue Jackets returned LW Alexandre Picard to Syracuse of the AHL . . . Columbus D Adam Foote returned after sitting out two games with a back injury. LW Rick Nash missed his fifth game with a back injury . . . Chicago C Peter Bondra was placed on the injured list with a left shoulder-neck injury . . . Chicago LW Karl Stewart returned after missing 11 games with a knee injury.