The Washington Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres yesterday 5-3. A Caps win has become somewhat of a surprise, but even bigger, the fact that Jason Chimera has finally tallied his first goal of the season.
Chimera's drought was a huge surprise to the Caps, especially given the fact they did not resign another goal scorer, Alexander Semin. Combined between the two, they accounted for 41 goals last season for the Caps. That's a ton of offense to be missing. Last season, Chimera scored a career high 20 goals and a career high 39 points. Frustration clearly set in this season for Chimera, as he worked hard to overcome the drought and even missed a few open shots. Before yesterday, Chimera had not turned on the red light since May 9, 2013. His first marker of the season was fed by Troy Brouwer from behind the net and the frustration of a scoreless season was over for Chimera. His tally also gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
The Caps got on the scoreboard just 19 seconds into the game with Alexander Ovechkin's 11th marker of the season. Ovi's 350th goal of his career came just 19 seconds into the game, fed by helpers from the two Swedes, Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. Johansson would later score in the late second period to have his first multi-point game since returning from injury since. Since his return on March 10, Johansson has 2 goals and 2 assists in five games.
The Caps also got goals from Brouwer and Mathieu Perreault. Both Brouwer and Perreault ended with a goal and an assist.
Caps net minder Braden Holtby stopped 27 of 30 shots to help the Caps to the win. Holtby improved to 10-9 on the season.
As for the Caps, a win is a win. However, they still find themselves in a very precarious situation. Even witht he two standing points, The Caps remain 6 points out of the 8th playoff spot (currently held by the Carolina Hurricanes) and 7 points away from Southeast Division leader Winnipeg. Fact is, Braden Holtby spelled out the urgency need for aanother improbably playoff run.
“You look at the standings right now and it’s still close, top to bottom, of that playoff race,” said goaltender Braden Holtby, who finished with 27 saves. “To get those points, it’s huge, but you know, right now, we’ll treat every game like a playoff game. We have to win every one, or else we’re done, so that’s what we’re treating it like.”
It is not impossible. We witnessed an improbable playoff run in 2007-2008 after ther firing of Glen Hanlon and the hiring of Bruce Boudreau. It was a magical playoff push that will long be remembered in franchise hsitory. However, it was a different team then. Much different. Alex Ovechkin was a different player then. Much different. Things are different. An improbable playoff run with this team? We shall see, but there is a ton to doubt.
Nicklas Backstrom, 2 assists
Troy Brouwer, 1 goal, 1 assist
Marcus Johansson, 1 goal, 1 assist
Mathieu Perreault, 1 goal, 1 assist
Mike Ribeiro, 2 assists
Joel Ward, 2 assist