ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward took the ice at practice Friday morning and was met with a standing ovation from about 100 fans in attendance, as well stick-taps from his teammates.
Ward’s game-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 Wednesday against the Boston Bruins sent the Caps to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they will face the New York Rangers beginning Saturday (3:00 p.m., ET, NBC).
The biggest goal of Ward’s career, however, was partially overshadowed by racial slurs that were posted Wednesday night on social networking websites including Twitter.
Ward told a Washington radio station Friday that “words don’t hurt me,” and said he was disappointed that the online comments have kept his teammates from receiving attention for the series. Ward singled out goalie Braden Holtby, who was brilliant throughout the series and became just the third rookie goalie in the history of the League to eliminate the defending champions.
"There's been a lot of support from everybody, especially my teammates and then the whole organization and even the opposition and the Bruins and some of their fans," Ward said after practice. "It's been overwhelming. A lot's been going on. I'm just trying to embrace it as best I can."
Ward also said Friday morning that he received a congratulatory and supportive text message from Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley.
NOTES: The Capitals practiced Friday with the lines and defensive pairings listed below.
Alex Ovechkin – Brooks Laich – Troy Brouwer
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom – Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks – Jay Beagle – Jason Chimera
Mike Knuble – Keith Aucoin – Joel Ward
Mattias Sjogren – Jeff Halpern – Mathieu Perreault
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik – Mike Green
Jeff Schultz – Dennis Wideman
John Erskine - Dmitry Orlov