Jason Chimera turned 34 Thursday, so forgive an old NHL forward for cracking a joke about where his Game 1 goal against the New York Rangers ranked in his career.
“I’m getting older, so it doesn’t rank too high,” the Washington Capitals left wing said. “But it’s nice.”
Chimera isn’t nice to the Rangers this time of year. It was his sixth goal in 13 career Stanley Cup playoff games against the Rangers, continuing his somewhat baffling dominance of New York.
Chimera has just two goals in his other 24 playoffs games. There’s just something about facing the Rangers.
“Every time we seem to play them it’s a playoff series and it’s a big stage,” Chimera said Wednesday. “It’s fun to play against a team like that. Regular season’s one thing but as playoffs come around you always want to be one of those players [who’s] relied upon to play good and help the team out.”
This time, Chimera’s goal provided welcome insurance just 46 seconds after Marcus Johansson turned Steve Oleksy’s brilliant saucer pass into the Caps’ second of the night. Center Mathieu Perreault got things started, and Chimera finished it by beating Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
“P just made a good play,” Chimera said. “He kind of chipped it to me and went and it was one of those ones that you kind of fire to the net and sometimes it goes in. You know, P was kind of in front of the net, and maybe Lundqvist thought he was going to tip it, but he didn’t tip it, so I think it kind of fooled him a bit. It was nice to see it go in.”
Chimera celebrated his birthday with some help from defenseman Karl Alzner.
“Karl picked me up there,” Chimera said. “I think he strained his back when he picked me up. It was fun.”
But Chimera will get at least three more games against the Rangers, and he wasn’t in celebration mode after the Caps’ 3-1 win that gave them an early lead in the series.
“No, you’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “If you want to keep going, you’ve got to keep an even-keel and you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low.”