“Playoff hockey, really, the game slows down a little bit, generally,” Oates said. “You have to be good along the wall. Buildings get hot. Guys are a little bit more sure of their plays. They make safer plays. So the puck goes around the boards more often.
“Joel is a big guy. His skill set fits right into that. Right now our right side is very solid over there with four big guys who can pound it down the boards. It’s a big part of the game.”
Oates moved him from the fourth line to the third for Game 5 as part of the shuffling that resulted from Martin Erat’s apparent left wrist or forearm injury in Game 4. Mathieu Perreault, Chimera and Ward played about 17 minutes and combined for seven shots.
“This is how you get through in the playoffs,” Perreault said. “It’s through your whole lineup.”
Ward kept that in mind as he worked back from a bruised left knee that kept him out of the final nine games of the regular season. This is his time.
“Everyone’s goal as a kid is to raise the Stanley Cup,” Ward said. “It’s playoff time. That’s the best part about hockey.”