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Eight years ago Saturday, forward Joel Ward scored the Game 7 overtime winner at TD Garden to help the Washington Capitals eliminate the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins and advance to Round 2 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After a bad turnover and line change by the Bruins by their bench, forward Mike Knuble went on a two-on-one with Ward. After his backhand shot was thwarted by the pad of goaltender Tim Thomas, the reigning winners of the Vezina (best goaltender) and Conn Smythe (Stanley Cup Playoff MVP) Trophies, Ward pounced on the rebound on the backhand to eliminate the Bruins.
The game was the second straight and fourth overall of that series that went to overtime. The Capitals went 3-1 on the road that series with two of their wins and their lone loss coming in extra time.
Ward was signed to a four-year contract that carried a cap hit of $3 million the summer before to help the Capitals get over the Stanley Cup Playoff hump as they had not advanced past Round 2 since 1998.
In 35 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Capitals, Ward tallied five goals, 18 points, and a +3 rating. Two of those goals came in Game 7 as he also scored the icebreaker in the Capitals’ 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in the 2015 First Round series. In 276 career regular-season games with the Capitals, Ward posted 57 goals, 122 points, and a +22 rating.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, Ward did not help them get past the hump as they never advanced past the second round in any of his four seasons in Washington and even missed the tournament once in 2014.
Two months ago when the Capitals hosted black history night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ward participated in a ceremonial puck drop.
By Harrison Brown