Photo: Paul Frederiksen
Only one line on the Capitals is made up entirely of double-digit scorers: the third line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward. As we’ve mentioned before, they have been Washington’s top scoring threat outside of Alex Ovechkin this season. Sunday, Ward tallied 20 goals for the first time in career, while also assisting on Chimera’s foot-goal earlier in the first period.
“My karma paid off,” Ward told me after the game. “For me, I just hide in the weeds and try to look for some loose pucks.”
Ward had already topped his previous career high of 17 goals on the first of the month in Boston. Always a solid checking line forward, the 33-year-old has taken off as an offensive force this season. He already has six more goals this year than he did in his first two seasons with the Caps combined (six in ’11-’12, eight in ’13). Caps head coach Adam Oates has also given Ward a prime spot down low on the power play this year, which accounted for his goal against the Leafs. Per your boy Mike Vogel, members of the third line have been on the ice for 10 of Washington’s last 13 goals.
“I’ve counted on Wardo and Chimmer all year long,” Oates. “They penalty kill, power play. Big bodies that we count on for a lot of minutes to get territory for us. It’s good to see them rewarded because you don’t get a lot of accolades based on that, doing grunt work.”
Ward’s 20th came with the Caps up 2-0 on the power play after Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Dustin Penner the puck along the goal line. Penner immediately reversed the puck to Ward with a brilliant no-look pass. Charging toward the net from the slot, Ward whacked in his sixth power play goal of the season.
“It was an unbelievable pass from Penner from the goal line,” Ward said. “I just took a crack at it.”
It looked as if Ward had already notched 20 earlier in the game when he went swinging in front the crease three minutes into the game. However, video review showed the puck deflected off of Chimera’s skate before crossing the red line. Ward’s assist was good for his seventh multi-point game this year.
“I just took a whack at it and knew it went in,” said Ward. “It counted, and we just needed it to get a lead.”
“We want to contribute five-on-five,” he added. “The majority of the game is five-on-five. Obviously special teams is huge nowadays, but you’re not gonna be on the power plays all the time.”