If the Capitals plan on continuing their march to the penalty box, theyre going to need more performances like the one Jason Chimera gave them Friday night.
Chimera helped kill off five power plays and scored the Capitals first shorthanded goal of the season, leading the Capitals to an impressive 3-1 comeback victory over the New Jersey Devils in front of 15,230 fans at the Prudential Center.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Capitals, who were forced to play most of the final two periods without star defenseman Mike Green.
Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson also scored for the Capitals, who scored three unanswered goals after falling behind.
When you score a short-handed goal in a tight game, that team almost always wins, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. It's pretty amazing the momentum changer that that can be.
Green appeared to reinjure his right ankle when he was taken had into the boards by Devils forward Ryan Carter late in the first period. He returned to take one power-play shift in the second period but did not return after that.
Having been badly outplayed in the third period of their previous two losses to the Stars and Islanders, the Caps dominated the Devils in the third period and took the lead while killing off a penalty to Mike Knuble.
With 2:27 gone in the third period Chimera corralled a loose puck along the defensive right wing boards and used his speed to turn rookie defenseman Adam Larsson inside out. He then cut hard to the slot, drew Martin Brodeur out of his net and lifted a shot over the sprawled goalie for his fifth goal of the season and the Capitals first shorthanded goal in 14 games.
I knew I poked it by one defenseman, I knew I had a one-on-one, Chimera said. I dont know who it was but I had a step on him so I kind of went around him. Once youre around him you dont want to dump it in if youre on a breakaway.
Johansson finished off the Devils when he deposited a Karl Alzner rebound past a diving Brodeur with 9:17 remaining in the game.
The Caps played solid defensive hockey the remainder of the third period, all of which Alex Semin watched from the bench, coach Bruce Boudreaus response to him taking a hooking penalty midway through in the first period.
Boudreau said that as much as he was impressed with the Capitals penalty killers he took more satisfaction in the Capitals willingness to do the little things to win the hockey game. Like seeing eight different players combine for 11 blocked shots.
Our commitment to blocking shots and paying the price, Boudreau said. We talked about that this week, about battling. When you pay the price, you usually end up with smiles on your face even if you've got ice packs on your body at the end of the game.
The Capitals were lulled to sleep early by the Devils in the first 20 minutes, getting off just six shots and falling behind 1-0 on Larssons first NHL goal.
The 18-year-old Swede (he turns 19 on Saturday) was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce 13:06 into the period when a blind backhand pass from Patrik Elias squirted through the slot, off the right wing boards and back to Larsson, who ripped a shot through Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun for a 1-0 lead.
Making his first start since Saturdays rough outing against the New York Islanders, Vokoun needed to be sharp in the opening period. He stopped Zach Parise on a shorthanded chance early then received some help from his right post when David Clarkson rang one off the pipe.
The Caps killed off two penalties in that first period, including Semins team-leading 10th minor of the season. Semin, who on Thursday met with Boudreau and was reminded about his penalties, was stripped of the puck in the offensive zone and was called for pulling down New Jersey forward Nick Palmieri.
Boudreau responded by giving Semin just four shifts in the second period and none in the third.
The Caps rallied back to tie the score with 2:27 remaining in the second period when an errant shot by Dennis Wideman fell to the feet of Ovechkin who snapped his seventh goal of the season into the open left side of the net and celebrated by blowing a kiss.
Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff back to Wideman to set up the goal, giving Backstrom his team-leading 15th assist of the season.