This has been a tough season for Joel Ward, the grinding right wing with the $12 million offseason contract and expectations who has just one goal in his past 40 games with the Washington Capitals. But Tuesday night, he put on a show despite not touching the score sheet, helping shut down the Florida Panthers’ top line of Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann.
“He answered the bell. It was his best game that I’ve seen here,” coach Dale Hunter said. “He played hard, took the body, cycled well, created scoring chances. His line could have scored a couple goals, but that’s the way it goes. But they played well together and they worked hard and created havoc on that line. That line didn’t do much against us.”
Told that Tuesday was at least the best game he’s had in a while, Ward smiled.
“Sure, if you want to put it like that. I don’t know,” he said. “You just get opportunity, you just try and make the most of it. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. I got to play some minutes [Tuesday], which I was excited to do and try to help contribute.”
Ward played 13:42, the most he has in a long time. But it was deserved, as he was a beast in making life hard on the defensemen and helping keep Florida’s scorers off the board.
“He played a good game, he created a lot of forecheck, sustained a lot of offensive pressure there, created some chances,” winger Troy Brouwer said.
For much more on Joel Ward, check out Friday’s Washington Times.