Joel Ward: “It’s tough when you let the team down on a play like that”

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Earlier in the 2012 playoffs – and during plenty of moments in the 2011 postseason – Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward was a surprise hero. That won’t take the sting off Monday’s events a whole lot, however, as his late high-sticking double-minor opened the door for not one, but two enormous New York Rangers goals. To his credit, Ward owned up to the mistake to Tarik El-Bashir and other media members.

“It’s tough when you let the team down on a play like that,” Ward said.

Stephen Whyno captured Ward’s mood beyond that mature quote.

Joel Ward answers questions with his usual class, then sat at his locker for what felt like five minutes. Guys don’t just sit there. Surreal.

Obviously, Ward’s mistake was enormous, yet the Capitals’ penalty kill still cratered in the end. It’s one thing for a team to make a penalized player feel grief with one power-play goal, but New York did it twice. Brad Richards tied it with just seven seconds left in the third while Marc Staal collected the game-winner with about 23 seconds left in the second minor.

The Rangers now find themselves with a gift of a 3-2 series lead on a 3-2 OT win, their second overtime victory of this series. Ward and his team has a chance to soothe some of the pain starting with Game 6 on Wednesday; otherwise the likeable winger will have a lot of regrets this summer.