Barring setback, Caps’ Ward to return for Game 1

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On Tuesday, Washington head coach Adam Oates said he’s expecting Joel Ward to return to the lineup for Game 1 of the Capitals’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the Rangers.

Ward, 32, has been out since Apr. 7 with a knee injury after blocking a Sami Salo shot.

He missed Washington’s final nine games of the regular season, cutting short a productive second campaign in the nation’s capital that saw him score more points (20) in 39 games than he scored all of last season (18 in 73 games).

Getting Ward back for the playoffs is a big get for the Caps, as he’s been something of a clutch postseason performer during his six-year career.

Ward scored four points in six games during his playoff debut — Nashville’s loss to Chicago in the opening round of 2010 — then broke out by scoring seven goals in 12 games during the 2011 postseason, finishing with a ridiculous shooting percentage (25%).

Last year, Ward famously scored the Game 7 OT winner as the seventh-seeded Caps upset the second-seeded Bruins in the opening round.