Rapid Rewind: Chimera Does It Again. Capitals 4, Jets 3 (OT)

WASHINGTON – Jason Chimera scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, and Nicklas Backstrom tallied for the second consecutive game as the Washington Capitals won their second consecutive game, 4-3, over the Winnipeg Jets.  The Capitals jumped out to three separate one-goal leads in the game, but each time the Jets found a way to tie it up before Chimera tipped home Dennis Wideman’s centering pass halfway through the extra period inside Verizon Center.  Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves for his second consecutive win in the Washington nets.

The Capitals got off to a good start, pressuring the Winnipeg net and creating two solid chances in the opening 90 seconds.  Washington was able to break on top for the lead soon after, as Alex Ovechkin chased down a loose puck in the offensive zone and dished it to Alexander Semin, who blasted it over Ondrej Pavelec’s glove a little over five minutes in.  The hosts were unsuccessful on a power play immediately after the goal, the Jets began to gain some momentum back, and took advantage of a very poor shift by Alex Ovechkin, who deserted coverage in the neutral zone, to equalize off an odd man break off the stick of Andrew Ladd.

But the cardiac Caps struck back immediately, retaking the lead 12 seconds later when Jason Chimera tipped in a Brooks Laich pass.in front.  Winnipeg would not go away, however, coming right back to tie again less than two minutes later when Kyle Wellwood finished all alone in front.  The period ended with the teams deadlocked at two goals apiece.

The middle stanza again saw the Capitals come out hot, scoring a third goal a little over three minutes into the period when Nicklas Backstrom cashed a loose puck in front off a pass from Dmitry Orlov, the Russian’s first NHL point.  Again, Washington was awarded a man advantage soon after scoring, but again, they were unable to extend their lead with the power play.

After their unsuccessful man advantage, however, the Caps continued to blitz the Jets’ cage with constant pressure, but simply could not find another goal to extend the lead.  However, the momentum was sapped when Mathieu Perreault took a boarding call just past the midway mark of regulation, followed by a Mike Knuble slash to give Winnipeg a long 5-on-3.  But the hosts’ penalty killers were heroic, killing off the entire advantage with great shot blocks and positioning.

Using their kill as momentum, the Caps picked up right where they left off and pressured the Jets’ cage once more.  But Pavelec made several ridiculous saves, including two in particular on Ovechkin and Chimera coming across the face of goal, to keep the visitors’ deficit at only one heading into the second intermission.

Washington continued their theme of setting the tone to periods early again in the third frame, earning a power play a little over two minutes in after Alex Ovechkin willed his way to the front of the net and had his stick held.  Unfortunately, however, the Caps were again held off the board during the man advantage, never really setting up good zone pressure and only taking one shot.

As the period continued the game settled into a back-and-forth rhythm, with both teams getting some chances but neither controlling the tempo or imposing their will.  With eight minutes left, though, Mike Knuble streaked down the wing and deked to the middle, backhanding the puck past Pavelec for what appeared to be an insurance tally.  But the goal was waved off due to incidental goaltender contact, sending the Verizon Center crowd into an uproar.

That uproar was doubled seconds later as Bryan Little beat Vokoun cleanly with a wristshot from on a break to equalize; it was a shot that Vokoun absolutely has to have.  As the final six minutes of regulation came and went, both teams were presented with some great chances to go on top and take two points in regulation, but the neither team could take advantage and the game moved to overtime.

In the extra frame, the Jets took an early advantage with several odd-man rushes, but after a spectacular breakup play by Jeff Schultz in his own zone, the Caps broke back up ice and Dennis Wideman fed Jason Chimera for a tip-in goal to send the Caps home winners.

Observations:

Aside from an absolutely awful shift in the first period that directly led to the Jets’ first goal, Alex Ovechkin was excellent tonight.  He was active arond the puck, drove to the net on multiple occasions, and actually looked like he might do something great when he had the puck on his stick.  He’s still nowhere close to where he needs to be, but he’s better.  It’s progress.

As good as Tomas Vokoun was to start the year, he is playing exceedingly poorly at the moment.  Both of his last two wins were purely products of the Caps’ offense, and not him.  He’s overcommitting on the rush, getting caught out of position often, and giving up bad rebounds that his defenders have to scramble to clear.  He’s an elite goalie, so he will figure out, but right now, it’s not working for him.

Jason Chimera – wow.  I have been one of his harshest critics over the last 15 months, but he has been nothing short of amazing for this Caps team all year.  He’s always in the right spot, his speed is invaluable on the forecheck, and he just works his butt off during every shift.  He’s off to an amazing start, and this if this is the kind of performance the Caps can count on out of Chimmer, we will all be pleasantly surprised.

The Caps will practice early tomorrow on Thanksgiving and then will welcome the Rangers to Verizon Center Friday afternoon.  That game is scheduled for a 4 PM start.

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