Joel Ward's buzzer-beater gives Caps 2-1 win over Rangers, 1-0 series lead (Video)

Apr 30, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates with Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) after scoring the game-winning goal against the New York Rangers during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. The Capitals defeated the Rangers 2 - 1. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Reuters)

Joel Ward’s goal with 1.3 seconds left in the third period helped give the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their second round series.

Braden Holtby had a much busier workload Thursday night then he did during Monday’s Game 7 against the New York Islanders. From needing to stop only 11 shots three days ago, the Capitals netminder made 31 saves as Washington took the opening game.

A tight match-up began with a power play goal off the stick of Alex Ovechkin late in the first period. With Chris Kreider in the box for high sticking, the Washington captain fired a laser by Henrik Lundqvist for the 1-0 lead:

The goal was Ovechkin’s third of the playoffs, leading to a warning to the Rangers’ goaltender.

Via GRiZZY19:

New York pressed for an equalizer in the third period and got it with 4:39 to go. Kevin Hayes skated out to the top of the Capitals’ zone and whipped a shot that ended up going off Jesper Fast’s leg and by a screened Holtby to tie the game.

Things appeared to be headed to overtime, but Ward had other ideas.

A Nicklas Backstrom hit from behind on Dan Boyle — which angered Alain Vigneault and the Rangers — allowed Ovechkin to grab the puck behind the New York net. Ward sat in front waiting for the pass and when it came his way, he put it behind Lundqvist for the winner.

Here's that hit by Backstrom again, via Steph:

Via the Washington Post's Alex Prewitt, Backstrom felt it was clean, saying, "In the playoffs you've got to finish checks. That's what I tried to do."

Vigneault declined to talk about the officiating and did note that a lack of a presence in front during that sequence allowed Ward to be all alone.

Game 2 is Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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