“If I can kind of just continue with my linemates and stay on the plus side of things, it gives our team a better chance of winning games,” Ward said.
Ward had just six goals all of last season when he couldn’t get a sniff of the power play and often played on the fourth line.
Ribeiro hard on himself
Mike Ribeiro was hardly one of the Caps’ main problems in their season-opening loss, but the veteran center beat himself up over one play in the third period.
After the Caps took two penalties in short succession to go down five-on-three in a tie game, Ribeiro tried to settle a bouncing puck and clear the zone.
Instead, the Lightning kept it in, and Martin St. Louis scored soon after.
“I think if I cleared that puck, it might be a different game,” Ribeiro said. “I cannot clear the puck, come back, they score, 4-3, and then you’re playing from behind, trying to chase.”
Ribeiro had a heads-up play that led to Wojtek Wolski’s second-period goal and looked strong in his debut.
But that didn’t stop the 32-year-old from lamenting what he insisted was a key blunder.
“Details of the game that are going to cost you — that was one of them,” Ribeiro said.
Unsettling start for Holtby
Braden Holtby played 25 games for Hershey during the NHL lockout, so the goaltender wasn’t rusty. Still, he allowed goals on the first two shots he faced Saturday night.
Holtby settled in and wound up stopping 28 of 34. Six goals allowed doesn’t look good, but Oates‘ initial impression was not to blame his goalie.
“You know what, I don’t fault Holts at all on the goals. I think it was more all of us,” the Caps’ coach said. “And he played hard. I’ll talk to the goalie coach and we’ll evaluate that on Monday.”