Chimera lifts Caps past Jackets

Chimera lifts Caps past Jackets
April 1, 2011, 1:43 am
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Thursday, March 31, 2011 9:45 p.m.
UPDATED 11:03 p.m.

Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

By Chase Hughes

After giving up a late tying goal, the Capitals survived the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime thanks to a right-place, right-time goal by forward Jason Chimera.

Chimera acknowledged that scoring the winner against his former team was a nice way to finish.

It went off their defenseman and kind of ended right at my tape. Its hard to miss those ones, he said. Its especially nice against your old team. It was a good night.

Chimera also carried some extra motivation after being scratched against Carolina on Tuesday. He had previously played in all 76 Capitals games.

Its nice to get that one in, Chimera said. When youre producing, its hard to take you out of the lineup, thats for sure.

While Chimera returned in this one, the Capitals defensive unit continued to be diminished by injuries. During the second intermission, news broke that Dennis Wideman is in the hospital getting treatment for a hematoma in his leg. His status is week-to-week, but the injury could be significant.

Fellow blue-liner John Erskine returned for just one shift in the second period after fighting in the first period. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Erskine is day-to-day.

This all comes as Mike Green remains out with head injuries. The All-Star defenseman has not played since Feb. 25.

We dont want anyone else to get hurt, Boudreau said. But Ive been on a lot of winning teams, and theyve had to fight with more guys being out than we have. Well take it as it comes.

The difference on the blue line was noticeable, as the Capitals gave up three goals for just the fourth time in their past 16 games. Washington ranks fourth in the NHL with a 2.33 goals-against average. Columbus scored three despite missing top scorer Rick Nash.

Rookie defensemen John Carlson (25:48) and Karl Alzner (24:49) had to log extra time, as Washington was a man down for much of the game. On Tuesday, Carlson, who has appeared in all 78 of the teams games, played a career-high 28:12.

Its one of those things you cant control. Things are going to happen throughout the game and people are going to get injured, he said.

Carlson fared well, considering the extra load. In addition to holding down the blue line, he posted a goal and an assist. His first-period score came 1:39 into regulation, however, the Capitals struggled to take advantage of the early lead.

Sometimes when we get a lead so early, we kind of settle in instead of pushing the pace, and that was a classic example of what we did tonight, he said.

Its good we found a way to win, Carlson said. At the end of the day, we were happy but not satisfied.

The Capitals' win gives them another two points in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Currently the second seed, Washington moved another point ahead of the Boston Bruins who fell in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Caps still trail Philadelphia for first in the Eastern Conference by one point, and the Flyers hold a game in hand. However, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger (hand) is now out until the playoffs. Washington is four points up on third-place Boston.

The Capitals have four regular-season games remaining, two at home and two on the road. Up next is the Buffalo Sabres, who sit at seventh in the Eastern Conference. They would play Washington if the playoffs began today.