Capitals vs. Rangers: Joel Ward expected to play in Game 1

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Joel Ward is expected to return for Thursday night's Game 1 against the New York Rangers.

Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward is expected to play against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on Thursday night, according to multiple reports from morning skate.

Ward has been dealing with an issue with his left knee for the past month and missed the final nine games of the regular season. He last played on April 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, logging 13:35 of ice time while recording a goal and an assist.

During practice on Thursday, Ward took part in line rushes with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle. It is believed that Ward will replace Aaron Volpatti in the starting lineup.

Ward was expected to return for Game 1, as head coach Adam Oates stated earlier in the week that chances of the forward playing were good. Oates made it seem like the final decision would fall on Ward's comfort level.

In 39 games this season, Ward recorded 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) while averaging 15:07 of ice time per game, including time on the penalty kill (1:15 average) and power play (1:55 average).

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