He hadn't scored for the Washington Capitals since April 18 and he hadn't scored in the playoffs since April 27, 2008. Still, the playmaking No. 2 center didn't let shifts that went by without production shake him.
Martin Erat won't be in the Washington Capitals' lineup for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Friday night against the New York Rangers after suffering an apparent left wrist or forearm injury in Game 4.
Since their horrid 2-8-1 start, the Caps are 23-10-1. They could clinch the Southeast Division and corresponding No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference as soon as Tuesday. And they believe they can beat anyone.
It's no coincidence that the Caps are 12-2-1 in their past 15 games since Ovechkin and Backstrom were reunited.
The Caps lead a division that could better be known as the Southeasy based largely on their 12-3 record against the Jets, Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers. They're 9-14-2 against the rest of the Eastern Conference yet would earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs if they maintain this lead.
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.
The 22-year-old center scored two power-play goals in the third period to lift the Islanders to a 5-2 win over Washington, ending the Capitals' three-game winning streak.
After giving up a goal 23 seconds in to the second half of back-to-back games, players cite fatigue and want to move on. But going into Saturday's game at the Winnipeg Jets, they know the value of a good start.
"Some nights you didn't even know if he was going to come to the rink," Brouwer said. "It's tough to play alongside guys like those because you don't know what you're gonna get out of them."