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Ward returns to Caps lineup for Game 1

Arlington, VA (Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will have a valuable piece of their puzzle back in the lineup for Thursday's first-round opener against the New York Rangers.

Joel Ward, who missed the final nine regular-season contests with a knee injury, will play in the Caps' Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Verizon Center.

The 32-year-old had been hobbled after blocking a shot by Bolts defenseman Sami Salo back on April 7.

Ward totaled eight goals and 20 points in 39 appearances for the Caps in 2013 as a fourth-line winger. He memorably won last year's Easter quarterfinal at Boston with an overtime marker in the deciding Game 7.

His return means that Aaron Volpatti -- a late-season addition to the club -- will be removed from the lineup.

05/02 16:39:08 ET