WASHINGTON – An unlikely scoring threat struck again for the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
Jason Chimera scored his second goal of the game at 1:52 of overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
Chimera easily redirected a pass from Dennis Wideman into the open net to end Winnipeg’s three-game winning streak.
“(Wideman) made a great play,” Chimera said. “It was one of those empty nets that you tap and hope it goes in.”
That’s the way it’s gone so far this season for the 32-year old Chimera, better known for his speed and physical play than goal-scoring throughout his career.
Chimera scored just 10 goals last season and never more than 17. But he’s now got eight in just 20 games and leads the Capitals, ahead of players such as Nicklas Backstrom (seven), Alex Ovechkin (seven) and Alexander Semin (five).
“Well, I’ve just always had it,” Chimera joked. “Was just going to wait until my later, mid-30s to get it going. I don’t want to peak too early. I want to keep playing until I’m 45 so hopefully I’ll keep on getting better.”
Chimera (13 points, tied for third) credits linemates such as Joel Ward (healthy scratch) and Brooks Laich and Semin in Wednesday’s win. Laich assisted his first goal, and Chimera is getting more chances to score.
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said Chimera has been playing great all season.
“He’s on one of those rolls where he hasn’t been in a while,” Boudreau said. “I am pretty happy for him because he is a guy that comes, he works every day, he’s always got a smile on his face, he keeps the team loose. It is good to see good things happen to good people.”
The Capitals needed the offensive help because they lost three one-goal leads. They went ahead 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but the Jets kept bouncing back.
Still, Washington kept working and seemed to grow stronger as the game went on.
“We don’t change our game plan because things don’t go our way at the moment,” Washington goalie Tomas Vokoun said. “We were just patient and, no matter what is going on, we play the same way and it works for us.”
Washington has won two in a row, but the Capitals had lost their past four games against Winnipeg, going back to last season when the team was in Atlanta.
The Capitals improved to 4-0 in overtime this season. They also are 8-1-1 at home, 5-1-0 against Southeast Division opponents.
Washington got its offence going, coming up with numerous scoring chances and holding a 37-25 edge in shots.
In addition, 11 different Capitals had at least one point. Boudreau said the team wanted to be more physical, and they got their wish.
When the two teams met in Winnipeg last week, Washington finished with only five hits. The Capitals posted 35 in this game.
“(They) played a lot different tonight,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. “They played hard, and they played with some emotion to the game, and it showed.”
The Capitals took a 3-2 lead when Nicklas Backstrom celebrated his 24th birthday by scoring from in front at 3:08 of the second period.
Washington needed to play some tough defence when Winnipeg had a two-man advantage for 1:20 midway through the second period.
Laich then broke his stick right after the second penalty and couldn’t get to the bench, but Washington killed the penalties, drawing a standing ovation.
Winnipeg tied it at 3-3 at 12:36 of the third period when Bryan Little scored on a quick shot from the left circle.
Semin, a healthy scratch in Monday’s game against Phoenix, returned to the lineup and gave Washington an early 1-0 lead.
Ovechkin chased down a puck that John Carlson banked off the boards along the left wing and flipped a quick back-handed pass to Semin, who scored at 5:23 of the first period.
Winnipeg tied it on Andrew Ladd’s goal at 13:21 of the period, but Washington answered just 12 seconds later when Chimera redirected Laich’s pass into the net.
Kyle Wellwood then tied it again by converting a rebound with 3:30 left in the period.
Notes: Ward was a healthy scratch for Washington after he overslept and missed a team meeting on Tuesday morning. … Dmitry Orlov got his first NHL point by assisting on Backstrom’s goal. … Wellwood has seven points in his past four games. … Nik Antropov’s first-period assist was the 250th of his NHL career.