Jason Chimera may have started his Islanders career slowly, but the 37-year-old is on pace to have another remarkable NHL season.
Just 25 seconds after Josh Ho-Sang had pulled the Isles within one, Chimera wound the puck around from the blue line and all the way to Cam Ward, who kicked the puck toward the boards. Cal Clutterbuck crashed to prevent Carolina from taking possession. The puck hopped off the glass and took a fortuitous bounce back to Chimera, who gained the puck in the circle, and used a quick release to go top corner far side on Ward to tie the game at two.
"Those [goals] are huge, especially in the last minute of the second period, to get the goals," Chimera said. "Going [into the third period] 2-2 is a lot different than going in down 2-1."
For Chimera, it was his 17th goal of the season, 12 of which have been scored over his last 30 games.
Say what you want about Chimera and his poor advanced metrics, because I know this was a sub-50 percent Corsi guy even when he was with the Caps. But I still think I owe Chimera an apology here, because if you can have back-to-back 20 goal campaigns in your age 36 and 37 season in the NHL, you deserve a ton of praise, and that's what Chimera is on the precipice of.
Chimera looked completely lost in his first two-and-a-half months with the team, but it's like he's a different player right now. And any time this team can get an offensive contribution from the Chimera-Clutterbuck-Gionta line, it's a massive positive. The goal at the end of the second was exactly the momentum changer this team needed, and it completely altered the course of this game.
I know in the modern hockey world we tend to turn our noses up at the "grinders" or the cagey old veterans who just have a knack at finding the twine. But sometimes, you need a dose of those guys down the stretch and into the playoffs. Thus far, Chimera's turnaround makes him one of the unsung heroes of this second half resurgence.