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Morgan Rielly and a few others may soon be among the next generation of elite offensive defensemen. ...

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Sharks' Joel Ward continues to shine in Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:58:10 +0000

Fitzgerald Cecilio - 4E Sports Reporter

San Jose, CA, United States (4E Sports) - San Jose Sharks' right wing Joel Ward continued his Stanley Cup Playoffs success after hitting the go-ahead goal in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series at SAP Center.

"I don't know," Ward said. "It's just a fun time of year. I feel like I say that all the time."

Ward took a pass from Joonas Donskoi and stormed down the left side of the ice. He didn't see much of an opening because of how much of the net goaltender Pekka Rinne was taking away by aggressively coming out of his crease.

"He stopped a lot of my shots," Ward said, referring to Rinne , a former teammate with the Predators. "It is frustrating when you shoot at him sometimes."

When Rinne committed with a lunge, Ward made a deft move and then pulled the puck back to tuck it inside the post before running out of real estate.

Ward got an assist when left wing Tomas Hertl scored on the power play at 2:37 of the third period, a goal that erased Nashville's 1-0 lead and gave San Jose all the momentum.

Overall, Ward had three shots on goal and five hits, won the majority of his faceoffs , and was plus-2.

Ward has played 59 NHL playoff games and has 15 goals and 41 points, an average of 0.69 points per game; his regular-season average is 0.44.

"I think this time of year, everybody is looking for big, heavy, hard players," San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. "You get to this time of year in the NHL and there are eight teams left and 22 sitting home, and there is very little separating the teams talent-wise.

Logan Couture, a Sharks alternate captain, has been impressed with Ward, 35, since the day he arrived this fall as a free agent acquisition.

"It's confidence, calmness," Couture said. "It's his attitude when he is at the rink; he's a great guy to be around. He's a guy that you don't realize how old he is when you are playing with him; he has that young spirit."

Ward is content to let others explain his impact in the playoffs. He plans on doing what he does every spring.

"I just try to embrace the moment," he said.

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