May 9, 2012, 4:41 PM EST
After watching the New York Rangers tie and win Game 5 from the sin bin, Joel Ward is ready for Game 6.
“I get a chance to redeem myself,” Ward told NBC Washington after Wednesday’s game-day skate. “I look forward to the challenge and helping the team win.”
Much has been made of the high sticking double minor Ward took on New York’s Carl Hagelin on Monday. It not only paved the way for Brad Richards‘ equalizer and Marc Staal‘s OT winner, but it set off another round of racist tweets directed his way.
As you’d expect, several of Ward’s teammates have jumped to his defense, pointing out that 1) the penalty was accidental, not a lapse in judgement and 2) it could’ve happened to any Capital.
“It was just a hard-working accident is what it was,” Matt Hendricks said. “If it wasn’t for Wardo, we wouldn’t be where we are right now anyway. These things happen. It could happen to anybody in this room.”
As for Ward’s redemption, he’s certainly got the resume for potential heroics. He lead the Predators in goals last playoffs (seven) while finishing ninth overall — tied with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, who played 13 more games.
He also scored one of the biggest goals in Capitals history in Round 1, a Game 7 OT winner that eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
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