The Washington Capitals dominated play in game seven against the New York Islanders through two periods. They were constantly parked in the Isles zone, putting pucks on goaltender Jaroslav Halak with ease. The Islanders could barely muster a whimper, with just six shots on goal as the middle frame wound down. Somehow, though, Washington hadn’t found a way to convert: missed deflections, timely saves, and bad bounces led to a scoreboard that reflected little about what happening on the ice.
Then, with 1:25 left in the second period, Joel Ward broke through, poking Brooks Orpik‘s shot through the legs of Halak. Verizon Center erupted into a shining display of pure human joy. But it was still full of Washington Capitals fans, ready to have their hearts ripped out with final game, final period collapse. And just three minutes and 13 seconds into the closing frame, Frans Nielsen did just that with an innocent-looking wrist shot from the slot that trickled through Braden Holtby’s pads. With that, the game was tied. Though the Caps had dominated play, the game looked like it would end with another bitter, bruising fight, with one bad bounce deciding each team’s fate.
But instead, the game-winner would buck the thuggery the series had shown. With around seven minutes left in the zero-sum game, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up Jason Chimera‘s pass at the far wall, before cutting right through the heart of the New York zone. The play was magisterial, with Kuznetsov floated past Islanders defenders. Instead of firing the puck off at his first look at the net, Kuznetsov held on to it until he got to the near circle. That’s when Halak went down. Kuznetsov saw an opening.
“I just put puck in the net,” he told reporters after the game.
One-by-one, as they stepped off the ice and into the locker room at their Virginia practice facility, mic flags went flying into the faces of members of Washington Capitals. Tonight, the team will play its eighth game seven since the Ovechkin era began. Five of those games have ended with crushed looks on the faces of the boys from Arlington. The questions were obvious.
“The media is the only people that bring up the past,” Jason Chimera scoffed. “It’s history for a reason. We wanna make our own history tonight.”
John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.
Jason Chimera has been involved lately. He’s been scoring goals and playing an angrier, grittier game. That continued against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. As Tyson Strachan and Mike Weber put a cheap shot the Caps forward in the corner, Weber pulled Chimera’s jersey over his head and started throwing jabs.
The headless Chimera actually landed three punches while blind.
Even though he’s only two seasons into his NHL career, Tom Wilson has had a bunch of impressive highlight reel hits. Saturday against the Islanders, he authored another one. This time with his pal Jason Chimera.
As Travis Hamonic gathered in a puck behind the Isles net, Wilson and Chimera caught him with, what Craig Laughlin referred to as, a “double whammy.”
Troy Brouwer just used some hustle to create one of the most unlikely goals of the season. After a turnover in the offensive zone, Brouwer dove and reached out with his stick. Brouwer managed to steal the puck from a Ducks player and sweep it back into the zone before it crossed the blue line, which would have put his team offsides.
The puck went right to Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuzy and Jason Chimera raced against Ilya Bryzgalov on a two-on-none. The Russian winger passed to Ice Cheetah, who buried it in Bryz’s five-hole.