Jason Chimera’s long, international nightmare is over.
The puck was in the net, the red light was on and the expression on his face made it look like the weight of 27 games, 13 arenas and almost two months’ worth of pressure was off his shoulders.
“Finally,” Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “Almost he forget how to celebrate a goal so he was kind of, ‘Aw I scored a goal finally.’”
Chimera’s goal Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres was a welcome relief not just for the respected 33-year-old left wing but all of his teammates. When Troy Brouwer, Mathieu Perreault, Jack Hillen and John Carlson celebrated, it was like the Caps had won a playoff game, and Cheshire Cat smiles on the bench greeted Chimera on his way back.
“You can see a lot of the guys are happier than me that I scored,” Chimera said. “So it means we’ve got great guys on this team, and it helps to know they’ve got your back.”
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a little fun with Chimera along the way, lighting incense to try to change his fortunes. He said a Jobu voodoo doll from “Major League” even made an appearance in his locker.
“Yeah, it was a fun ribbing, but I think they know it’s a sensitive subject when you haven’t scored a goal in  games,” Chimera said. “It’s all fun, though. Guys are really good about it.”
It is a sensitive subject. For most of the past couple of months, Chimera has been good-spirited about his play despite not scoring a goal. But teammates tried to lay off him at times.
“You don’t want to mess with a guy like that too, too much,” Brouwer said. “At first we did, and then we kind of backed off because everyone’s been in a drought. You know it can wear on you, and when guys are picking at you a little bit it can make it worse.”
It could have gotten bad for Chimera if this happened several years ago instead of now, in his 10th NHL season. The left wing said he had never been through a stretch like this in his carer.
“Back in my younger days I might have been more [ticked] off, but I think having kids humbles you a bit,” Chimera said. “You go home and kind of reset yourself, and it’s a good feeling.”
When asked about one of Mike Knuble’s famous lines about sacrificing a goat to end a drought, Chimera said he didn’t want to hurt any animals. Maybe he’d take the batteries out of one of his kids’ toys, but he wasn’t going to do anything extreme.
“I parked in a different spot today when I got home in my driveway, so maybe that helped out,” Chimera said after Sunday night’s 5-3 victory over the Sabres. “That was the only thing I did differently.”
Chimera drove to the net and let it be known he wanted the pass.