December 10, 2019

GAME 20 RE-CAP: Chimera’s OT winner delivers victory over Jets

Jason Chimera’s second goal of the night came 1:52 into overtime to lift the Caps to a second consecutive win after four straight losses, leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets last night, before a capacity crowd at the Verizon Center the evening before Thanksgiving.

The win improves their record to 12-7-1 (25 points, 2nd in Southeast and sixth in the Eastern Conference) and 8-1-1 at home.

There were several great story lines to the game.  So many, it’s tough to decide which ones to really emphasize.

We could start with the easy one, the redemption story of the Caps’ resident enigma, Alexander Semin, returning from his one-game exile with perhaps his best overall performance of the season, scoring the Caps first goal and playing a complete, thoroughly invested game.

Through an interpreter, Semin said “Of course I wanted to win, I wanted to play great.  But at the same time, I don’t think I changed anything.  I just played my game, went out there and did exactly like I did before.”

Asked if this was his best game of the season, he said, “It’s actually not important if it was my best game or not.  The most important thing was that we won. I’m just happy I didn’t pick up a penalty.”

Asked if he was pleased with what he saw from Semin, Coach Bruce Boudreau said, “Yes.  Very much.  I thought he played a really good game.”

Naturally, we should discuss Chimera’s play.  The gritty forward had 10 goals all of last season, and netted his seventh and eighth last evening.  Not known for his scoring prowess, Chimera has found himself at the right place at the right time on many occasions, maybe none as big as overtime when he used his speed to keep a puck in the offensive zone, then went straight to the net to receive a pretty pass from Dennis Wideman and tap in the game winner.

“Wides made a great play. It was one of those empty nets that you tap and hope it goes in. I missed one earlier in the third period so it was good to get that one.”

And about his new-found scoring touch, leading the team in goals at the Thanksgiving break?  “I’ve just always had it,” Chimera joked.  “I just waited until my mid-30s to get it going. You know, I don’t want to peak too early.  I wanna keep playing until I’m 45 so hopefully I’ll keep on getting better.”

Of course, one of the big turning points in the game was a 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period, with Mathieu Perreault off for boarding and Mike Knuble following him 40 second later with a slash.  Right off the ensuing faceoff, things got even tougher as Brooks Laich broke his stick.

But the Caps buckled down, and roughed up Winnipeg center Nik Antropov, with Matt Hendricks getting a couple of clean shots in at the whistle before Laich stepped in to tangle with the big center.  Both Laich and Antropov went off for roughing, and it’s amazing after consulting the replay that Hendrick didn’t join them.

Boudreau discussed the importance the sequence had in the game.  “Big turning point in the game. I thought. You know it got the crowd really engaged in the game and it got the bench really up. They did a great job out there. [Assistant coaches] Dean [Evason] and [Bob Woods] Woody do the video with them; what to do and the [opposing] team’s tendencies [are], but it’s something you can’t practice because it is all about blocking shots and the last thing you want your team in practice to do is break an ankle or something blocking shots.”

When the 5-on-3 expired, Perreault, who received a grand total of 18 seconds on the kill last season, jumped out and pitched in to kill off Knuble’s infraction.  The capacity crowd rose to their feet with an ovation as loud as any this season at Verizon Center.

The Caps outshot their opponent 37-25, which in not uncommon, but also outhit Winnipeg, 35-27, after being credited for just five hits in a 4-1 loss to the Jets last week.  Jets’ coach Claude Noel noticed the difference in effort between the two games.  “They played with a lot more emotion. They got energized by scoring early. They got energized by the crowd.  They got energized by physical hits.  They played hard and they played with some emotion to the game and it showed.”

Those words have to be music to Boudreau’s ears.

CAPS NOTES:  Joel Ward was a healthy scratch for disciplinary reasons.  The rigged winger missed a team meeting Sunday due to oversleeping and Boudreau had him sit this one out.  It marks the second consecutive game Boudreau has had a healthy player watch from the press box for disciplinary reasons.

Mike Green and Jay Beagle continue to be out indefinitely with their injuries.

Nicklas Backstrom scored his seventh goal of the season, on his 24th birthday.

The Caps were 0-for 4 on the power play.  They are now 16th in the league with the extra man, but have failed to score 5-on-4 in their last 28 attempts.

Dmitri Orlov recorded an assist on Backstrom’s goal for his first NHL point in his second game. The young Russian defenseman also delivered a crushing old-fashioned hip check to wipe out a Winnipeg forward.  Boudreau said, “He’s doing a good job. In every game hopefully that he’s here he gets a little better and better.”

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

Comments

  1. Scott Gater says:

    While it was great to see Chimera score and play well last night, I would still be worried long term about the lack of production by the power play unit. Also, the seemed to lack the ability to put the Jets away. The Jets came back after every goal the caps scored and got away with a point in the game.
    I saw last nights game at the phone booth and it always impresses me how well the Caps to to get and keep the fans energy high. Claude Noel commented in the Canadian press that the energy level of the fans in Washington, he felt, have the Caps a big edge at home.

    • Dave Nichols says:

      agreed, the power play is very troubling. at 5×5 the Caps are solid scoring-wise, but they need special teams to contribute.

  2. I think Orlov’s first name is spelled “Dmitry”. I’ve seen it spelled both ways, but the Capitals website has it spelled that way. Great post. I was at the game, and the energy after Laich’s penalty was incredible. Judging by his play and BB’s high praise of him, I think Orlov might be up for good. I think it’s interesting that he got no time on the power play. I saw him in Hershey, and I think the power play would benefit greatly from having Orlov running the point.

    • Dave Nichols says:

      Dave, thanks for the comments. Yeah, I’ll have to verify spelling of Orlov’s first name. That 5-on-3 PK was a huge moment in the game, and folks were still talking about it at practice today.

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