Joel Ward has basically played the equivalent of one power play with some change this postseason on the Capitals’ man advantage.
His presence on the Capitals’ first power play of Friday’s game, however, was exactly what the team needed to break through an otherwise impenetrable Henrik Lundqvist. Eleven seconds of power play time, and Ward had the Capitals’ first and only goal in regulation Friday.
“No, my name was called,” Ward said when asked if Oates gave any explanation to him for putting him on during the man-advantage. “And I just went out there. I was excited to be out there, and I just tried to pay attention to details and get in my spot.”
What’s equally interesting, however, is how the Capitals got the power play. They crashed the net, and in the ensuing scrum, Brian Boyle got frustrated and took a slashing penalty.
Maybe they should look more into this crashing the net theme.
Ward and Mathieu Perreault, in fact—two bottom-six forwards—are now tied for the most points out of all Capitals forwards this postseason, with four each. Another third liner, Jason Chimera, is not far behind, and that’s after he struggled offensively for much of the season.
What does the third line seem to have figured out?
“We don’t sell ourselves short. Obviously, there’s other guys on the team that make big plays, but we just worry about ourselves. We’re not worried about who we’re playing against, or who we’re matched up against,” Ward said.
Perreault’s answer is balm for hockey purists: they throw a lot of pucks on net, they crash the net, try to create traffic.
The other Capital tied with Perreault and Ward for most points is defenseman Mike Green. Occasionally, those shots from the point will be perfectly placed or too difficult for a goalie to track in traffic. Other times, the puck will mange to find its way to the back of the net amidst the scrum of skates, helmets, jerseys and limbs flying in front. Everything in between, Lundqvist usually stops.
Mike Ribeiro had the last laugh on everyone Friday, however, when he scored the game winner for the Capitals in overtime. It’s the teams’ second overtime of the series.
Conditioning wise, Nicklas Backstrom said he thought the Capitals looked good and that it looked like the team had a lot of energy.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Washington can swing this momentum to a Game 6 closeout in the Rangers’ home building.