On a night that included few highlights for the Caps and even less fire power, the highlight of the game didn't come during it, but before it. Prior to Sunday's regular season finale against the Anaheim Ducks, Justin Williams was honored for his 1,000th NHL game in a ceremony that included a video tribute and gifts from the NHL, the team and a special surprise from the players.
"I'm privileged and honored and humbled by the reception and the whole pre-game ceremony and my teammates," Williams said after the game. "It was a time I won't forget for sure."
The man affectionately known as "Stick" watched a video tribute on the ice with his wife and two children that included highlights from Williams' storied career as well as messages from several former and current teammates. Alex Ovechkin made an appearance as well, saying "You have to be perfect to play 1,000 games and you're the perfect man."
You can watch the tribute in the video above.
The tribute also included a message from his parents with his mom throwing in a joke about his hair after the phenomenal look he was sporting for the team picture.
"I think I get all the tips from her, obviously," Williams said after the game.
Williams was presented with a commemorative crystal from the NHL and a silver stick from the Capitals. He was also surprised with a trip from the players who chipped in for a golf vacation for two in Scotland.
An avid golfer, Williams said the trip came as a complete surprise.
"That's the first I heard of it and it was totally unexpected. Very grateful and happy the guys got me something."
Williams signed with the Caps as a free agent in the summer and his first season with the team has been a complete success for both the Caps and Williams. The veteran winger was courted by the Montreal Canadiens whose season imploded after the injury to goalie Carey Price. Now instead of watching the playoffs from home, Williams is preparing for what he hopes will be a lengthy playoff run with the Presidents' Trophy winning Capitals.
For the Caps, Williams provided steadying veteran leadership that the team sorely needed along with 22 goals and 30 assists. He is also one of seven Caps players to have appeared in all 82 games for the team this season.
When asked about what it took Williams to get to this point in his career, head coach Barry Trotz said, "Staying productive, staying fairly healthy and playing a number of games at a very high level. And obviously he's won some championships which we'd love to do around here."
Now the real work begins.
As good as the regular season was for Williams, the man also known as Mr. Game 7 was brought in to help the Caps where they needed it most: in the playoffs.
Williams has won the Stanley Cup three times in his career, once with Carolina and twice in Los Angeles. He earned the nickname Mr. Game 7 for his scoring 14 points in his career in Game 7s, tying a record set by Glenn Anderson.
For all the success Williams has seen in the regular season, he knows what's at stake now as the playoffs begin.
"First part of the year is over and the next part is the one I really care about," Williams said. "That's what'll make the icing on the cake."
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