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In win over Florida, Jason Chimera finds the net, ‘was going really good’

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Jason Chimera tore from the penalty box, hard across the ice, bent on redeeming a slashing penalty he later called “bad.” Stick flailing, he poked the puck from the Florida Panthers in his defensive zone, then took off. Eleven seconds after his discharge, Chimera drew a tripping penalty on Dmitry Kulikov, ushering the only full-length power play Washington enjoyed all Saturday night.

As the man-up unit took the ice, Chimera returned to the bench for a lesson. Had Chimera not drawn that penalty, Coach Barry Trotz said, “he would’ve been pretty close to being permanently on the wood.” So when Chimera sat down, Trotz offered some advice. Keep your emotions in check, he told Chimera. Don’t lose your composure, for after the ill-advised slash, only the trip “took him back from the bench to the ice.”

“I talked to Chimmer and he was good,” Trotz said. “He was good. He got it. We’re going to learn all year, and that was a moment where let’s turn that into a teaching moment.”

There weren’t many other teaching moments Trotz found for Chimera, the third star in the 2-1 shootout win over Florida, inarguably the most effective skater all night. He crashed the offensive zone on dumped pucks, cycling with his linemates Eric Fehr and Joel Ward, and scored his first goal of the season.

“He was really skating,” Trotz said. “He was going really good.”

The goal, which held up until the Panthers tied it at 1 in the third period, came when Orpik cycled the puck down to Joel Ward, the linemate with whom Chimera had formed a tight bond, to the point that everyone now calls them “the twins.” Always strong at winning board battles, Ward flipped the puck to Eric Fehr, who drew the attention of four Panthers.

Except no one checked Chimera, who caught the pass right before the crease, deked goaltender Al Montoya into the ground, and flipped a casual backhand. He pumped his fist, let out a scream and hugged Ward.

“Fehrsie just made a good play,” Chimera said. “I knew he’d have to come out pretty fast. I knew no one was on me, so I kind of showed some patience. Great pass by Fehrsie. All I had to do was finish it.”

Chimera nearly scored again, a goal which would have iced the night, on a breakaway. Winning the icing battle yet again, he tried to nudge the puck past a sprawling Montoya, only for Montoya’s skate to keep it from the goal line.

“Yeah I did,” Chimera said, “I thought it was in when I put it last his leg. I thought it would be in.”

Not much further disappointment remained for Chimera, whose goal marked his first point this season. Trotz had moved Fehr to the third line seeking a jolt, reuniting the center with the twins. The chemistry, Trotz figured, would be regained fast.

“Definitely feeling a lot like that, the way we’re cycling pucks,” Fehr said. ‘Still want to see our line taking pucks to the net a little more. We’re having good control. We’re keeping the pucks low but I think there’s opportunities to take the pucks to the net or give it to the D to create more offense.”

Their advanced metrics took a hit after an astronomical first period – Fehr finished at 40 percent Corsi-for at even strength, a shot differential measurement, with Chimera at 48 percent and Ward at 46, though more defensive zone starts could have contributed to this – but on a night when goals were at a premium, Chimera and Fehr teamed up to find the net.

And, as one reporter later noted to Chimera, the patience he showed in beating Montoya certainly looked like a goal-scorer’s move.

“Well,” Chimera replied, with a broad grin, setting up the punch-line, “I’m a goal-scorer.”

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