NEWARK, N.J. | The comeback had already started – certainly with Brooks Laich’s goal early in the third period and perhaps earlier if you count the quality chances the Washington Capitals got against the New Jersey Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur late in the second.
But Dale Hunter still wanted to shake things up, so he put Laich on a line with Jason Chimera and Alexander Semin. It worked pretty well, leading to a goal on their first shift together that cut the Caps’ deficit to just one with 7:16 left.
“Sometimes you look for combinations that can click. They played well together,” the Caps’ coach said. “They got one shift, they played well, so I put them out again.”
It just kept clicking. A few minutes later with plenty of momentum providing the wind behind them, Laich, Chimera and Semin combined to tie the score. Laich found Chimera at the side of the crease, and all the 32-year-old had to do was slide it into an empty net.
But the chemistry that line had, including an aggressive third period from Semin, played a big role in the Caps coming back to even gain a point.
“Jason and I have played together the bulk of the season. We really enjoy playing with each other. And then we just got pucks to the net,” Laich said. “I thought we used our size – that line – and made it hard on defenders.”
For Chimera, again the Caps’ leading goal-scorer with 13, Alex Ovechkin helped set the tone for the third period, too.
“Huntsie came in the second period and said we’re not out of this. Keep working hard,” he said. “When Ovi and Semin start working hard like they did in the third period, it makes such a big difference for our team. It radiates through the team.”