- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2011

NEWARK, N.J. — Jason Chimera’s two goals Friday night vaulted him back into the Washington Capitals’ lead for goals this season.

That’s not a typo — vaulted back, as Chimera has reclaimed a spot he’s held for much of the season. He now has 13 and is on pace for 32. The winger has never had more than 17 in a single campaign.

When Chimera was asked if he was surprised to be the leading scorer on a team with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, a nearby Karl Alzner chimed in.

“No,” the defenseman said with a smile.

Chimera figured to be the perfect kind of player for coach Dale Hunter, and that has proven itself in the first 11 games since the coaching change.

“He’s been playing hard for us, going to the net hard, and he’s getting good results from it,” Hunter said. “He’s a big guy that can skate, and he gets in on the forecheck and creates problems for the other team.”

Chimera mostly creates problems when he puts the puck in the net, and his two goals Friday night helped the Caps erase a big deficit against the New Jersey Devils en route to earning a point in a 4-3 shootout loss.

One goal was the result of crashing the net and knocking in a loose puck, and the other was the result of going to the net to tap in a pass from Brooks Laich.

Chimera laughed off Alzner’s response and the notion of surprise that he’s setting the scoring pace for the Caps.

“I’ve been going to the net more than I have. So I’m getting rewarded,” Chimera said. “Ten of of those goals came from right in the paint. You have to get there. Hopefully I can keep it going all year.”

Naturally, the team-oriented Chimera doesn’t want to measure success by goals.

“I would trade a few of those goals for a few more wins, that’s for sure,” he said.

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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