Ten years ago today, 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 near their bench, forward Mike Knuble collected the puck and went on a two-on-one rush 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 with a 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 in that series, with two of their wins and their lone loss coming in extra time.
“It felt like…you felt like a five-year-old kid, man. What are the chances? The way it unfolded too,” Ward said. “What a feeling. For me, that was the biggest highlight.”
Ward, who called the game-winner an “out of body experience,” thought that 2012 was finally going to be the Caps’ year. Although not a part of the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning team, Ward still rooted for his old teammates and friends that he still keeps in touch with to this day.
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.
By Jon Sorensen