Ward’s late goal lifts Capitals over Rangers in series opener

Joel Ward wanted Alex Ovechkin to hear him over the din at Madison Square Garden. So, the depth forward screamed at his superstar teammate. Maybe he should do it more often.

NEW YORK — Joel Ward wanted Alex Ovechkin to hear him over the din at Madison Square Garden.

So, the depth forward screamed at his superstar teammate.

Maybe he should do it more often.

Ward got Ovechkin’s attention and drove the Russian’s feed past Henrik Lundqvist with 1.3 seconds left to give the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night in Game 1 of their second-round series.

“I took a hard whack at it and it went in,” Ward said.

After the goal was confirmed by replay, Ovechkin kissed Ward on the cheek.

“I heard (Ward) screaming so loud,” Ovechkin said. “I just wanted to throw the puck (to him). As soon as I went to the bench and I saw the replay, it was a clear goal. We’ll take it.”

Following a mostly ceremonial faceoff, the teams skirmished at centre ice, sparked by New York’s displeasure that Nicklas Backstrom wasn’t penalized for hitting Dan Boyle from behind on the play that led to Ward’s goal. To a man, the Rangers acknowledged that they let up, expecting referees Chris Rooney and Kelly Sutherland to blow the play dead.

“I saw (Boyle) get hit (and) go down,” defenceman Ryan McDonagh said. “I kind of hesitated.”

Ovechkin opened the scoring with a power play goal with 1:47 remaining in the first period. Jesper Fast tied it with 4:39 left in the third, tipping Kevin Hayes’ point shot past goalie Braden Holtby.

Holtby made 31 saves, and Lundqvist stopped 27 shots.

Game 2 is Saturday in New York.

“I don’t care,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said, when asked if the 12:30 p.m. start for Game 2 could benefit his team. “We’ll play whatever time the game is.”

The Capitals ended a two-game losing streak against New York in the playoffs. Washington also lost three of the four regular-season meetings with the Rangers.

“They’re a very talented team,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said about the Rangers, who finished the regular season with the most wins in franchise history. “There’s a reason that they finished No. 1 in the regular season.”

In the first period, with New York centre Dominic Moore in the penalty box for holding, Ovechkin carried the puck into the offensive zone and whipped a shot past Lundqvist from the top of the left circle for his third goal of the playoffs.

In 27 career playoff games against the Rangers, Ovechkin has 11 goals and 10 assists. He led the NHL during the regular season with 53 goals, 25 power-play goals and 11 game-winning goals.

Ovechkin’s goal was Washington’s first playoff score against Lundqvist in 138:13 dating to Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

“He’s a rare talent in this league,” Trotz said about Ovechkin. “He’s very similar to Mark Messier. Those rare talents that can play a very heavy game (and) intimidate you with speed. He can intimidate you with his skill and his physicality.”

Holtby was aided by some misfires from New York’s shooters.

In the second, Carl Hagelin pushed Fast’s cross-ice feed wide of the net. Later in the period, Derick Brassard couldn’t jam a loose puck in the crease past Holtby.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

63 per cent said equality between men and women has not been achieved

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, anti-coup protesters run as one of them discharges a fire extinguisher to counter the impact of tear gas fired by riot policemen in Yangon, Myanmar. The escalation of violence in Myanmar as authorities crack down on protests against the Feb. 1 coup is adding to pressure for more sanctions against the junta, as countries struggle over how to best confront military leaders inured to global condemnation. (AP Photo/File)
Escalating violence raises pressure for Myanmar sanctions

More shootings were reported over the weekend

A moth-killing drone hovers over crops in a green house in Monster, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. A Dutch startup is using drones to kill moths in midair as a way of protecting valuable crops in greenhouses that are damaged by caterpillars. PATS Indoor Drone Solutions emerged from the work of a group of students looking for ways to kill mosquitos in their dorm rooms. The drones themselves are very basic, but they are steered by smart technology and special cameras that scan the airspace in greenhouses. When the cameras detect a moth, a drone is set on a collision course with the bug, destroying the bug with its rotors. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
Drones vs hungry moths: Dutch use hi-tech to protect crops

Drones instantly kill the moths by flying into them

Health-care worker Jenne Saunders prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province on March 1, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada set to receive more than 910,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week

Federal government looks for vaccine-makers to finalize delivery of eight million doses by March 31

Statistics Canada’s offices at Tunny’s Pasture in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. Newly released documents show Statistics Canada considered delaying this year’s census until 2022 over pandemic-related concerns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Statistics Canada considered delaying this year’s census to 2022 due to pandemic

A census takes seven years between the start of planning to the release of data

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Seasons changing: Hope around the corner with vaccines

The month of March is leaving its muddy footprint on the land… Continue reading

Hamilton Forge FC’s Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia’s Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Forge FC owner Bob Young says the Canadian Premier League champions will be playing the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC at a disadvantage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC owner upset at Canada Soccer’s timing of Canadian Championship final

Winner of Canadian Championship final earns a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League

Team Wild Card Two skip Kevin Koe reacts to his shot as he plays Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the Brier in Calgary, Alta., on March 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Wild Card Two’s Koe beats Gushue 9-7 to hand defending champs first loss at the Brier

Gushue was a tad heavy with his final draw and Koe picked it out for the victory

(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No regrets: Grammy-nominated DJ Jayda G on choosing beats over sciences career

TORONTO — House music producer Jayda G knows a thing or two… Continue reading

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, left, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaking about expecting their second child during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” airs March 7 as a two-hour exclusive primetime special on the CBS Television Network. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
UK royals absorb shock of revealing Harry, Meghan interview

Anti-monarchy group Republic said the interview gave a clearer picture of what the royal family is like

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

Most Read