New York Hockey: Joel Ward

Rapid Reaction: Capitals 2, Rangers 1 (OT)

May, 10, 2013
WASHINGTON -- A quick take on the Washington Capitals' 2-1 overtime win over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals:

At a glance: Washington's Mike Ribeiro swept in a rebound for the game winner to give the Capitals a 2-1 overtime win and a 3-2 lead in the series. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist was terrific in the third period and overtime -- especially on a stunning kick-save to rob Mathieu Perrault -- but Ribeiro's goal sealed it for the Caps at the Verizon Center on Friday night. Washington will now have a chance to close out the series Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Bad idea: With the Rangers leading 1-0, Brian Boyle took a boneheaded penalty that allowed the Capitals to even the score. Though the officials missed Ribeiro’s shove to Boyle that preceded the play, they caught the hulking centerman retaliating as he took a big whack at Riberio’s legs. With Boyle in the box for slashing, Joel Ward cashed in on a power-play goal at 7:44 to tie the game at 1-1.

Quick start: Before the game, Capitals coach Adam Oates expressed concern about the team’s start. He was right to be worried. The Rangers scored just 53 seconds into play when streaking center Derick Brassard set up Boyle in front for a 1-0 Rangers lead. Brassard’s helper, his fifth primary assist of the series, is his sixth point in the past two games.

Clowe blow: Ryane Clowe, who returned in Game 4 from what is believed to have been a concussion, was forced from Game 5 with another injury. The rugged 30-year-old winger took only one shift after taking a hard hit from Jason Chimera along the end boards at 4:40 in the first period, a play that earned Chimera a boarding penalty. Clowe did not return to the game.

Thrown into fire: Making his NHL debut in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Washington prospect Tom Wilson skated on the team’s fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle. The 19-year-old Wilson, a first-round draft pick in 2012 (16th overall) was called up from the AHL’s Hershey Bears in the wake of Wednesday night’s injury to Caps winger Martin Erat.

Up next: Game 6, Rangers vs. Capitals, Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Joel Ward aiming for Game 1 return

April, 30, 2013
According to multiple reports out of Washington, Capitals forward Joel Ward is aiming to return to the lineup by Game 1 on Thursday in D.C.

The 32-year-old winger, sidelined since suffering a knee injury April 7, sounded optimistic he'd be available when the Caps host the Rangers in the opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

“I’m hoping to," Ward said, according to the Washington Post. "Obviously we’ll see how these next couple days go,” Ward said. “I think my mind feels pretty good, it’s just I want to get in with the guys and kind of muck it up a little bit. I think the next couple days will be a pretty good test."

Ward would be one of the main beneficiaries of the surprisingly late start to the series and the Caps are hopeful that practice time will pay off.

Ward tallied the overtime series-clinching goal in Game 7 to knock off the Boston Bruins in the first round last April. He had eight goals and 20 points for the Caps before sustaining the injury, which sidelined him for the final nine games of the season.