Third line checker Joel Ward isn’t usually on the power play, but last night in the second period head coach Adam Oates played a hunch on the Capitals first extra-man advantage of the game.
“My name was called and I just went out there,” Ward said after the game. “I was excited to be out there. I just tried to pay attention to the details and get in my spot.”
He got in his spot, alright. After Nicklas Backstrom — at the right circle — passed to Marcus Johansson behind the net, the young Swede immediately dished to Ward for a one-timer. Tic-Tac-Joel, as Craig Laughlin lovingly put it.
It was Ward’s first playoff goal since his epic game-seven, overtime game-winner against the Boston Bruins last season that sent the Capitals into the second round.
To celebrate, Ward threw his hands in the air, giving off some sassy body language that translates to some form of “YESSSSSHHHHHHH.” Then Ward noticed something coming towards him out of the corner of his eye at high speed. He braced himself.
Alex Ovechkin, author of some of the most epic goal celebrations you will ever see in the NHL, was very, very excited that his teammate scored. Maybe too excited. Ovechkin jumped a few feet in the air as Ward tried to catch him like an over-exuberent puppy. Later, Ward admitted he was scared Ovechkin might injure him.
“Yeah, I just didn’t want to fall and hit my head on the ice or something,” Ward told RMNB’s Chris Gordon. “I was just trying to brace myself because [Ovi's] a big body over there.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Ovechkin’s celebrations scared his teammates. After Sergei Fedorov’s game-winning goal in game seven of the 2009 series against the Rangers, Ovechkin tackled the Russian vet to the ice with glee. “He was so excited”, Fedorov said of the celebration way back when. “When he jumped on me, I was like, Whoa, careful! But when we crashed into the boards, he absorbed most of the impact, so it was O.K.” The Ward situation was no different.
“Obviously, I was just excited to get one, especially on the power play and special teams,” Ward continued. “That’s the name of the game in the playoffs. He’s excited. I’m excited. Everybody’s excited.”
Yes, but let’s not hurt each other, you guys!
Photo credit: AP
Additional reporting by Chris Gordon.