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Capitals’ Justin Williams becomes Mr. 1,000

Capitals right wing Justin Williams (14) is honored for his 1,000th NHL start before the first period of the game between Washington and the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post)
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While the Washington Capitals were without some of their stars in Sunday night’s regular season finale, the game was can’t-miss for Justin Williams. To hockey fans, he’s known as “Mr. Game 7” for his clutch playoff heroics, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champion.

To his Capitals teammates, the offseason acquisition has quickly become “Mr. Perfect.” He added a 1,000th game to his impressive resume on Sunday. The Capitals held a pre-game ceremony, in which Williams was presented with a commemorative crystal from the NHL, a silver stick from the Capitals and a trip to Scotland from his teammates.

“It had kind of come up in the last couple of years, I guess, that I might be able to get it done,” Williams said. “It’s something that I’m honestly very proud of. Playing 1,000 games, not a lot of people get to do that. I’m privileged and honored and humbled by the reception and the whole pre-game ceremony and my teammates. It was a time I won’t forget, for sure.”

Williams became the 304th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game plateau. The right wing scored 52 points (22 goals and 30 assists) in 82 games with Washington this season, marking the fifth time in his career he has recorded 50 points in a season.

This season is the sixth time in his career he has played in every game in a season. How has the 34-year-old managed to stay healthy?

“That’s got to be smarts, right?” Williams said earlier in the week. “I think throughout the years of playing hockey, you figure out what you can do and what you can’t do on the ice with regards to hitting, with regards to evading checks, with regards to making plays.

Washington Capitals reporter Isabelle Khurshudyan explains how the team has changed in the past year and how that could affect its playoff chances. (Video: Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

“There’s some things you can do at other levels that you can’t do at this level, and some of my injuries I learned the hard way, and some of them were tough, nothing you can do about. But throughout my career I’ve learned about the body, learned about what you need to do on the ice, and I’ve been able to stay healthy because of it.”

The Capitals played a sweet tribute video to Williams that included congratulations from his parents, his two children and former teammates. This was an obvious highlight:

“That was pretty funny,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “He’s Mr. Perfect for a reason. He has perfect hair, too.”

Why did the team decide to send Williams to Scotland?

“It’s one of the best places to golf,” Alzner said. “Besides hockey, I think that’s his favorite past time to do. He loves to golf. It’s one of those things where you want to get a guy something that he wouldn’t normally get for himself. That is a trip that, unless it’s planned for you, you don’t really do it until you’re maybe a little bit older.”

Said Williams: “That was the first I’d heard of it, and it was unexpected and very grateful. Happy the guys got me something. It was very nice.”