The Caps closed within a point of the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers when Jason Chimera's tip-in goal with 2:30 remaining in overtime gave Washington a 4-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
The Caps broke the 100-point mark for the third season in a row. With 101, they are six ahead of second-place Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division -- and just one behind the Flyers, who lost 1-0 at home to Atlanta. The Flyers have a game in hand.
"It was a little bit of a funny night for us," forward Mike Knuble said. "I want us to be better -- I know we can be better."
In OT, the Capitals capitalized on a 3-on-2 rush that resulted in a shot from Brooks Laich that goalie Steve Mason could not handle. The rebound went right to Chimera, who tapped in the puck to beat his former team and give Washington its 12th win in March.
"It went to the net soft," says Chimera, who had a goal and an assist after being a healthy scratch in on Tuesday against Carolina, "it kind of 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. Especially nice against your old team. It was a good night."
Mason, who stopped 29 shots but gave up a number of rebounds, said the Capitals were the better team.
"I thought they deserved to win," he said. "They're one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference."
Michal Neuvirth stopped 20 shots to pick up his 25th victory of the season.
"The goals that went in were hard to stop," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "More importantly, when the game's on the line, he's there. He had to make some really good saves at the end to preserve the win."
Scottie Upshaw forced overtime for Columbus, fighting off two Washington defenders to score his 22nd goal of the season with 5:37 remaining in the third period to make it 3-3.
"We battled hard -- we came back from behind three times," Blue Jackets center Antoine Vermette said. "We didn't give up. That's what I like about that game tonight."
The teams scored four goals in a 2:17 span in the second period.
Vermette tied it at 1 with 8:50 remaining after Matt Calvert came up with a loose puck and kicked it toward his teammate, who beat Neuvirth. The Capitals answered when Knuble retrieved Nicklas Backstrom's shot and tapped the puck into a wide-open net with 7:28 left.
Just 42 seconds later, the Blue Jackets' Fedor Tyutin fired a shot from just inside the blue line past Neuvirth to tie it. Washington again responded when Jason Arnott scored 13 seconds later off a perfect pass from Marco Sturm.
Washington got off to a quick start, with defenseman John Carlson scoring 1:39 into the contest. Mason flubbed a glove save of a Laich shot, and Carlson deposited the rebound for his seventh goal of the season. The Capitals outshot Columbus 15-4 in the first period and 33-23 overall.
"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," Carlson said. "It's good we found a way to win. It was a good character win to pull it back after we had so many leads throughout the game."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|John Carlson (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Brooks Laich (27), Jason Chimera (16)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Antoine Vermette (19) Wrist shot - ASST: Matt Calvert (7), Tomas Kubalik (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Mike Knuble (21) Backhand shot - ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (42), Alex Ovechkin (49)|
2 - 1 WSH
|Fedor Tyutin (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Tomas Kubalik (2), Matt Calvert (8)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Jason Arnott (16) Wrist shot - ASST: Marco Sturm (9)|
3 - 2 WSH
|Scottie Upshall (22) Wrist shot - ASST: Derek MacKenzie (13)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Jason Chimera (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Brooks Laich (28), John Carlson (28)|
4 - 3 WSH
|Scottie Upshall Tripping against Nicklas Backstrom|
|Marco Sturm Hooking against R.J. Umberger|
|Jared Boll Fighting (maj) against John Erskine|
|John Erskine Fighting (maj) against Jared Boll|
|Matt Hendricks Holding against Sami Lepisto|