With 2:30 left in the overtime period, John Carlson took control of the puck on a three man break. He sent the puck to Brooks Laich who found Jason Chimera in front of the goal. Chimera shot the puck into the net as the Washington Capitals took a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at the Verizon Center.
“It went to the net soft,” Chimera said about the game-winner. “It went off their defenseman and it kind of ended up right on my tape so it’s hard to miss those ones, but those are nice.”
While Washington was happy to get the win and their 101 point on the season, the win does not outweigh the injuries that have plagued team, especially the news regarding defenseman Dennis Wideman. The Caps were without Wideman, who suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday night’s contest against Carolina, and as of Thursday night, was in a Washington hospital with a significant leg hematoma as a result of the hit from Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu.
“[Wideman’s] been firing off some pictures, and they are pretty graphic,” Mike Knuble said of the pictures he has received from Wideman’s injury. “It’s pretty grotesque… He’s just dealing with the pain.”
The Caps acquired Wideman from Florida on the NHL’s Feb. 28 trade deadline. Wideman has seen considerable minutes on the ice since he joined the Caps line-up. The 28-year-old has played at least 22 minutes in each of his games as a Capital. He has also played a vital role on the power play unit helping to fill the void of Mike Green who suffered a concussion during a Feb. 25 matchup against the Rangers.
If Wideman continues to be out with the leg injury, the Caps will see a noticeable lack of support on the defensive end. Washington is already without top defensemen Green and Tom Poti. Green has missed 21 of the last 23 games and Poti has missed the last 34 games with a lower body injury.
The Caps also lost defenseman John Erskine with three minutes to go in the first period. Bruce Boudreau said that he was taken out as a ‘cautionary measure’ and is listed as day-to-day, but Washington can’t overlook the significant injuries to the blue line.
“It’s one of those things you can’t control,” Carlson said. “Things are going to happen throughout the game and people are going to get injured and people are going to be healthy. Hopefully that happens really soon.”
Washington closed out the first period with a 1-0 lead but it was during the second period that things started to get interesting during two and a half minutes of mayhem.
It started with a Blue Jackets goal right before the 11 minute marker. Center Antoine Vermette scored a wristshot off a loose puck in front of the net to tie things up at 1-1. Less than 90 seconds later, Nicklas Backstrom took a shot from outside the net, the puck slid between the legs of Columbus’ goaltender Steve Mason to Knuble, who capitalized on a backhanded goal to, once again, give the Caps their one-goal lead at 2-1.
“You just keep going to the net,” Knuble said. “You stop at the crease; I think that’s the big thing. You just get ready for it. It was a nice two-footer in front of the net; they are your favorite as a player I think.”
The Blue Jackets struck again less than a minute later when defenseman Fedor Tyutin scored on a wristshot for the equalizer.
It took 13 second for the Caps to respond. Jason Arnott won the faceoff following the Columbus goal, and then scored off a pass from Marco Strum that came from behind the net. It was Arnott’s first goal since returning on Tuesday from a six-game absence due to an injury.
Arnott and Alex Ovechkin returned to the Capitals lineup on Tuesday night after missing six and three games respectively. Their return seemed to be a sign that the team was getting healthy, until more injuries plagued them this week.
“It seemed like last week we were getting guys back,” Knuble said. “We got back Jason [Arnott] and Alex [Ovechkin] and now we seem to be dropping guys. All of a sudden you’re searching for guys that can play. We are dealing with that. [Wideman] is going to be out for a while that’s a reality. We’d like to be adding guys at this point instead of losing them.”
Washington wrapped up its 18-game slate against Western Conference opponents with the victory Thursday night. The Caps have four games left before they head into the playoffs, hopefully with fewer injuries.
“It happens to everybody. Everybody’s got injuries,” Boudreau said. “I’ve been on a lot of winning teams and they’ve had to fight with more guys being out than we have so we’ll take it as it comes.”