By Jay Greenberg, in New York
The Caps still have another shot in Game 6 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET) to force one more chance in Game 7
to save Joel Ward.
application for admittance has been stamped at the Gates Of Ignominy, where he
has been processed, fingerprinted and assigned a room with Marty McSorley, whose
illegal banana blade turned the 1993 finals for Montreal and whoever jumped on
the ice too soon for Boston - Don Cherry will never tell - when the Bruins
seemingly finally had the Canadiens beaten in 1979 after a three-year
Ward is not yet in hockey hell, he could certainly see it from the penalty bench
where he sat when the Rangers' Brad Richards tied the game out of a goalmouth
scramble with 6.6 seconds to play and Marc Staal's point drive went off two
Capitals to win Game 5, 3-2, at 1:35 of overtime.
battle for position following a faceoff, Ward reefed Carl Hagelin in the face --
a classic case of not being in control of your stick. Blood was shed by Hagelin
and tears in Washington when Ryan Callahan, jamming, jamming at the puck in
Braden Holtby's pads, kept the puck alive that Brad Richards got his stick on
just before the rookie goalie's big glove could come down to put Washington up
-- a poke really -- barely avoided Carl Alzner, who went to a knee on what would
have been the 26th Caps block of the game, and slid off the far post and in.
In overtime, Ward still was in the box
on the double minor when John Mitchell beat Matt Hendricks on a draw and Marc
Staal's shot ticked off both Laich and Hendricks and past a blind Holtby.
just hoping for another chance to redeem myself," said Ward, who was waiting for
reporters when they were admitted to the locker room. "But when you are in the box there is nothing
you can do.
"[Hagelin] set a pick, I was trying to get around him and gut my stick
under him and that was it. It's tough
when you let the team down. "
After having their hearts ripped up their
throats in Game Three triple overtime, the Caps bounced back to win all of Game
4 and 59:53.4 of Game 5 too. They had
gotten goals by Laich, who pounced after Brian Boyle broke down a centering pass
by Alex Ovechkin into the slot, and by John Carlson on a power play.
like Ranger rookie Chris Kreider, who took an early third-period high sticking
penalty almost identical to Ward's enabling the Carlson goal, would be the one
fingered by fate. But instead it turned
on Ward, a six-goal regular season scorer, who six games ago became perhaps the
all-time playoff hero for a franchise of essentially blossomless springs by
beating the Bruins in Game Seven overtime.
The game is much more cruel than was Ward's intent.
an accident, the breaks of the game," shrugged Dale Hunter, who coaches a team
that also lost Game 6 in overtime to Boston in a series just as tight as this
one and will presumably have its head on straight for a last stand by Wednesday
be hard because we know how well we played," said Alzner. "It's not like losing 5-0."
5-0 might have been easier. The Caps had held the Rangers power play to no shots
in three previous power plays before, with the help of the extra man replacing
Henrik Lundqvist, they relentlessly used the six-on-four to their
advantage. Richards won faceoffs from
Jay Beagle with 56 and 28 seconds to go and on sheer persistence, finally got a
puck out of Holtby's reach.
misjudging Anton Stralman's drive from the boards 10:44 in, the rookie goalie
had been classically composed and the Caps typically unyielding in front of
him. They certainly had chances to make
the Rangers need more than just the gift from Ward for a last chance.
third period Nicklas Backstrom hit the crossbar on a breakaway and the Caps
failed to get a shot on a three-on-one, enabling Rangers, who didn't put away
some of their on glorious opportunities at 1-0 and 1-1 to hang around to get a
break in the end.
like you're going to get a chance coming down the stretch and somebody has to
bury it," said Richards, whose play was described as "brutal" in Game 5 by John
Tortorella but got another chance.
wouldn't expect a 6-goal scorer like Ward to receive one more. He had his 10
seconds of fame in the last round. Infamy, however, will last forever for this
poor man if the Caps can't bounce back again.
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