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The CapitalsPenguins rivalry is a hockey rivalry between Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League. Both teams have played in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference since 2013. This rivalry stems from the 10 playoff series that the two teams have met in, with the Penguins emerging victorious in every series except for the 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. There is also only a 250-mile drive between the cities of Washington and Pittsburgh, allowing visiting fans of both teams to attend each others' games in fairly large quantities. In addition to the geography and deep playoff history, the emergence of Alex Ovechkin (Washington) and Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh) as two of the NHL's biggest superstars has fueled the rivalry.

Capitals–Penguins rivalry
Washington Capitals Pittsburgh Penguins
First meeting November 16, 1974
Latest meeting May 10, 2017
Next meeting October 11, 2017
Statistics
Meetings total 279
All-time series 144–119–16 (PIT)
Regular season series 106–95–16 (PIT)
Postseason results 38–24 (PIT)
Longest win streak WSH: W9
Current win streak PIT W1
Post-season history
  • 1991 Patrick Division Finals: Penguins won, 4–1
  • 1992 Patrick Division Semifinals: Penguins won, 4–3
  • 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Capitals won, 4–2
  • 1995 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Penguins won, 4–3
  • 1996 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Penguins won, 4–2
  • 2000 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Penguins won, 4–1
  • 2001 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Penguins won, 4–2
  • 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Penguins won, 4–3
  • 2016 Eastern Conference Second Round: Penguins won, 4–2
  • 2017 Eastern Conference Second Round: Penguins won, 4–3

Early History Edit

Starting in the early 1980s, Pittsburgh and Washington had developed some animosity towards each other, but their matchup was never considered one of the top rivalries because they were rarely good at the same time. The two teams had never even made it to the playoffs in the same year until 1989 when Washington lost to the Penguins' cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the division semifinals and the Penguins lost to the Flyers in the division finals. The next season, Pittsburgh and Washington went in opposite directions. Washington finished 3rd in the Patrick Division and made it to Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins (but lost that series 4–0), while Pittsburgh did not even make the playoffs.

1990s and Early 2000s Edit

The 1990–91 season would mark the beginning of the rivalry. Pittsburgh and Washington finished first and third in the Patrick Division, respectively. Pittsburgh won a tight division semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils in 7 games while Washington finished off the New York Rangers in six games. In the division finals, Washington won Game 1 in Pittsburgh, 4–2. Pittsburgh won the next 3 games, starting with a high-scoring 7–6 OT affair in Game 2, followed by two 3–1 victories in Washington. Pittsburgh closed out the series in Game 5 with a 4–1 victory. They would go on to win the conference finals against Boston and the Stanley Cup Finals against the Minnesota North Stars, winning both series in six games.

In 1991–92, Washington finished second in the division and Pittsburgh finished third. This set up a second consecutive playoff meeting between the two teams. This time, Washington took a 3–1 series lead by winning Games 1 and 2 on their home ice and then followed a Game 3 loss with a 7–2 drubbing of Penguins in Pittsburgh. Dino Ciccarelli scored 4 goals in that game and was one of five Washington players to have a multi-point game that night. Pittsburgh would not give up, responding with a 5–2 win in Game 5 in Landover. Pittsburgh then won both Games 6 and 7 by 2 goals each to win the series in 7 games. After this series, Pittsburgh defeated New York Rangers in the Division Finals and won 8 consecutive games to their second Stanley Cup.

1992–93 saw both teams captured the top 2 spots in the Patrick Division. Pittsburgh won the division with a franchise record 119 points in the regular season, including an NHL-record 17-game winning streak. However, the third-place team in the division, New York Islanders upset both Washington and Pittsburgh in the division semifinals and finals, respectively, thus preventing a third consecutive Caps–Pens playoff matchup.

Before the 1993–94 season, the NHL renamed its divisions and made minor realignments. Pittsburgh was placed in the Northeast Division (formerly known as the Adams Division), while Washington remained in the newly named Atlantic Division that was formerly known as the Patrick Division. In spite of the divisional realignment, the 2 teams met once again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round. Pittsburgh won the Northeast Division and earned the 2nd seed in the newly named Eastern Conference (formerly the Wales Conference), while Washington earned the 7th seed. Unlike the previous 2 meetings, it was Washington that won the series 4–2. Washington won Game 1 in Pittsburgh and the next 5 games were won by the home team. Joe Juneau and Michal Pivonka of Capitals would post identical stats over the course of the series (3 goals and 4 assists in 6 games). The Capitals were unable to duplicate their first round success in the conference semifinals, falling to the President's Trophy-winning (and eventual champion) New York Rangers in 5 games.

After the lockout-shortened 1994–95 season, Pittsburgh earned the third seed in the East, while Washington earned the sixth seed. This set up another first round matchup between the two teams. Just like the year prior, Washington won Game 1 in Pittsburgh, followed by 3 straight wins to take a 3–1 series lead. This time, however, Pittsburgh responded with 3 straight wins themselves, starting with an overtime win in Game 5 at Civic Arena. This gave Pittsburgh a 4–3 series win. Pittsburgh center Ron Francis scored 3 goals and tallied 11 assists during the series. The eventual Stanley Cup champion, New Jersey Devils, went on to defeat the Penguins in the conference semifinals, 4–1.

Pittsburgh and Washington met once again in the conference quarterfinals in the 1996 playoffs as the 2bd and 7th seeds in the East, respectively. Washington shocked Pittsburgh and won the first 2 games of the series in Pittsburgh by 2 goals each, but Pittsburgh won Game 3 by a 4–1 score. Petr Nedved scored in the 4th overtime period of Game 4 to tie the series at 2 games apiece. Pittsburgh won Games 5 and 6 to take the series in 6 games. They also went on to beat the Rangers in the conference semifinals, but lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to Florida Panthers.

Before the 1998–99 season, the NHL realigned its divisions once more. However, the Capitals and Penguins remained interdivisional opponents, as the Penguins were placed in the new Atlantic Division and the Capitals were placed in the new Southeast Division.

The two rivals did not meet in the playoffs again until 2000. Washington won the Southeast Division title and earned the 2nd seed in the East, while Pittsburgh squeaked in as the 7th seed. Unlike the other series in the playoffs, this matchup was played with a 1–2–2–1–1 format (team with home ice advantage plays Games 1, 4, 5, and 7 at home). Pittsburgh won the first 3 games in the series, starting with a 7–0 win at the MCI Center. The next 4 games were all close as each of them were decided by 1 goal. Washington won Game 4 at home, but lost in Game 5 marking their fifth playoff series loss to Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the 2000–01 season, Washington won a weak Southeast Division once more and earned the 3rd seed in the conference, while Pittsburgh earned the 6th seed. In the first round, Washington started the series with a 1–0 win over Pittsburgh, but lost the next 2 games. Game 4 in Pittsburgh went to overtime and Jeff Halpern scored for Washington to tie the series at two before heading back to D.C. However, Pittsburgh responded with a 2–1 win in Games 5 and 6 thus defeating Washington once again. Pittsburgh would go onto the Conference Finals before being defeated in 5 games by New Jersey.

2001–2006 Edit

The rivalry cooled off significantly for the next 5 years after the 2001 playoff encounter, as Washington and Pittsburgh combined for only 1 playoff appearance during this time (Washington lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals). The misfortunes of the two teams in the regular season would earn them the ability to draft high-end talent. Alex Semin (13th overall, 2002), Alex Ovechkin (1st overall, 2004), and Nick Backstrom (4th overall, 2006) were drafted by the Capitals, while Ryan Whitney (5th overall, 2002), Marc-Andre Fleury (1st overall, 2003), Evgeni Malkin (2nd overall, 2004), Sidney Crosby (1st overall, 2005), and Jordan Staal (2nd overall, 2006) were drafted by the Penguins. These players did their part in quickly turning the fortunes of their respective teams around. Crosby and Ovechkin, the most highly touted player on each team, first met on November 22, 2005, with Crosby getting a goal and an assist and Ovechkin getting an assist. Pittsburgh won 5–4. The two phenoms lived up to their expectations, as they tallied 106 (Ovechkin) and 103 points (Crosby) to finish third and sixth in the NHL scoring race, respectively. However, both teams missed the playoffs that year. Ovechkin's 52 goals placed him third all-time for goals scored by a rookie in a single regular season, behind Teemu Selanne (76) and Mike Bossy (53)

2006–2008 Edit

In 2006–07, Crosby notched 36 goals and 84 assists (120 points) to lead the league in points and win the Art Ross Trophy. Ovechkin had a strong season as well, scoring 46 goals and 46 assists (92 points). Pittsburgh improved much more quickly than Washington, as they secured their first playoff spot since 2001 by defeating Washington in their final meeting of the year. They were unable to find much success in the playoffs, as they were handed a 4–1 series loss to the stronger, much more experienced Ottawa Senators in the conference quarterfinals.

2007–08 saw both teams make the playoffs in the same year for the first time since 2001. Washington lost to Philadelphia in the conference quarterfinals in seven games preventing a conference semifinals matchup with Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh made it to the Finals against the Detroit Red Wings (defeating Philadelphia in the conference finals), only to lose the series 4–2.

2008–09: Crosby and Ovechkin's first playoff meeting Edit

The rivalry reached new heights in 2008–09. Washington finished as the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference, while Pittsburgh finished as the 4th. All three of the League's three leading scorers during the regular season played for either Washington or Pittsburgh (Evgeni Malkin, 113 points; Alex Ovechkin, 110 points; Sidney Crosby, 103 points). In the playoffs, Washington defeated the New York Rangers 4–3 in the conference quarterfinals, while the Penguins defeated their Pennsylvania rivals, Philadelphia, in 6 games. With the 1st (Boston Bruins), 2nd (Washington Capitals), 4th (Pittsburgh Penguins), and 6th (Carolina Hurricanes) seeds remaining in the East, this set up the eighth playoff meeting between Pittsburgh and Washington.

The Caps–Pens 2009 series began in Washington. Sidney Crosby opened the scoring on a wrist shot in the first period, only to have Capitals center David Steckel tie the game later on. Pittsburgh later found themselves trying to kill a 5-on-3 penalty, and Washington capitalized on it on a goal by Alex Ovechkin assisted by Alex Semin to take a 2–1 lead. Mark Eaton tied the score at two a little over halfway into the game, but it was Tomas Fleischmann who scored the only goal of the third period to give Washington a 3–2 win and a 1–0 series lead. Game 2 proved to be one of the most notable games in Caps-Pens playoff history, as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin both got hat tricks in the game. Steckel was the only other player in the game to score a goal, thus giving Washington a 4–3 win (with Ovechkin's third goal being the winning goal) and a 2–0 series lead with the series shifting to Pittsburgh.

In Game 3, Washington got the start they wanted, as Ovechkin opened the scoring for the Caps. Fellow Russians Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the second and third period, respectively, to give the Pens a 2–1 lead in the game. With 1:23 left in regulation, Nicklas Backstrom tied the game for Washington. The Caps were unable to build off of his goal in overtime, as Penguins' defenseman Kris Letang's shot deflected off Capitals' defenseman Shaone Morrisonn past goalie Semyon Varlamov and into the net to give Pittsburgh a 3–2 overtime win and cut Washington's series lead in half.[17] In Game 4, Washington scored first once more (from Nick Backstrom assisted by Alex Semin), but just like the previous game, Pittsburgh took the lead, this time from a power play goal by Sergei Gonchar and even-strength goals from Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko. Winger Chris Clark scored in the second period for Washington to make it 3–2. The Caps and Pens traded goals until the end of the game for a 5–3 final score in favor of Pittsburgh. The series was tied 2–2 heading back to the Verizon Center.

A Yanni concert in Pittsburgh had forced the two teams to play Games 4 and 5 on back-to-back days. Game 5 started with Steckel missing a wide-open net 19 seconds into the first period; the two teams got into a scrum at the end of the period. Alex Ovechkin and John Erskine of Washington and Brooks Orpik and Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh all received roughing penalties. In the second period, Jordan Staal scored for Pittsburgh. Ovechkin responded with his ninth goal of the playoffs to tie the score at one; he followed that with assisting on Backstrom's power play goal to put Washington ahead, 2–1. Fedotenko and Matt Cookeboth scored to put Pittsburgh ahead 3–2 in the third period, but then Ovechkin, with 4:08 remaining in regulation, tied the score at three with his second goal of the game and tenth goal of the playoffs (Bäckström assisted on his goal for his second point of the game). In overtime, Washington defenseman Milan Jurcina tripped Evgeni Malkin and got a penalty for it. This proved costly, as Malkin attempted a pass to Sidney Crosby which was broken up by Caps' defenseman Tom Poti and deflected into the net past Semyon Varlamov to give Pittsburgh a 4–3 overtime win and a 3–2 series lead heading back to Mellon Arena. Game 6 began with a goal by Bill Guerin to give Pittsburgh a 1–0 lead 5:55 into the first period. Viktor Kozlov and Tomas Fleischmann later scored to make it 2–1 in favor of Washington, however, Mark Eaton scored on the power play for Pittsburgh after Brian Pothier took an interference penalty. The Capitals and Penguins headed into the second intermission with Game 6 tied at two. Pittsburgh and Washington started the third period by trading power play goals by Kris Letang and Brooks Laich, respectively, and then Kozlov scored at even strength to put the Caps ahead by one. Sidney Crosby then scored with 4:18 remaining to tie the game at four. The game went to overtime and the series was on the line for Washington, but they still pulled through as David Steckel scored a goal assisted by Brooks Laich and Matt Bradley to force a game 7 back in D.C. Alex Ovechkin finished the game with three assists.

For the third time in their storied playoff history, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals played a Game 7 against each other, with Pittsburgh having won both previous Game 7's. It would prove to be a disastrous start for the Caps as they fell behind 5–0 (Crosby and Malkin each got two points from Pittsburgh's five goals). Ovechkin spoiled the shutout on an unassisted goal in the second period, but then Crosby scored an unassisted goal of his own, this time on the power play and in the third period. Brooks Laich scored afterward, but Pittsburgh held on for a 6–2 Game 7 win to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Crosby scored two goals and had an assist in the game to finish the series with 13 points (8 goals and 5 assists) while Ovechkin finished with 14 points (8 goals and 6 assists) in the series. Pittsburgh eventually played in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings for the second consecutive season. They won that series in 7 games to win their third Stanley Cup.

2009–2015 Edit

In May 2010, the NHL announced that the 2011 NHL Winter Classic was going to be played by the Capitals and Penguins, with the game being held on New Year's Day of 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.[22] Pittsburgh scored first off an Evgeni Malkin breakaway in the second period before Washington rallied for three straight goals, including two by Eric Fehr. The Capitals held on to defeat the Penguins 3–1.[23] This game is also notable for being the beginning of Sidney Crosby's concussion issues, as Caps' center David Steckel clipped him in the head by accident behind the play. Crosby returned to the Penguins' lineup four days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but after getting hit by defenseman Victor Hedman, he didn't play another game for 10 months.

Pittsburgh and Washington remained very competitive for the next few years, as the two teams combined for only 1 playoff-less season (Capitals in 2013–14) from 2009–2015. However, they never met in the playoffs during this time. They came close in 2011, but had the Penguins held their 3–1 series lead in the conference quarterfinals against Tampa Bay, they would have faced Washington in the next round.

Before the 2013–14 season, the NHL realigned into a two-conference, four-division setup. Pittsburgh and Washington were both placed into the newly formed Metropolitan Division, making the two teams divisional rivals for the first time since the 1992–93 season. The NHL also changed its playoff format to make divisional playoff matchups more common. This ignited the rivalry for years to come.

2016–present: Consecutive playoff meetings Edit

Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals met in two straight playoffs, writing another chapter in their storied playoff history against each other. They have been arguably the two best teams in the league, finishing as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference in both seasons. Despite their high regular season finishes, they have been paired as second round opponents both times.

2016 Edit

In the 2015–16 season, Pittsburgh and Washington finished as the top 2 teams in their division as well as their conference. Washington won the President's Trophy with 120 points,. In the first round, Washington beat Philadelphia in 6 games, while Pittsburgh beat the Rangers in 5 games to set up the 9th playoff meeting between Pittsburgh and Washington, and the first one in 7 years.

In Game 1, Captials left winger Andre Burakovsky opened the scoring off a rush a little over halfway through the first period only for Pittsburgh to bounce back in the second period with goals by defenseman Ben Lovejoy and center Evgeni Malkin. Right winger T. J. Oshie then tied the game for Washington later in the period and then scored less than nine minutes into the third to give his team a 3–2 lead. Their lead was relatively short-lived as Penguins center Nick Boninoevened the game about five minutes later sending Game 1 into overtime. In the extra session, Oshie skated around the Penguins' goal with the puck for a wraparound chance, but goaltender Matt Murray got a piece of it. In referee Dan O'Rourke's eyes, the puck had crossed the line, so he signaled a goal The play then was under review, and after a closer look, the puck had gone over the line by the length of a stick blade, and the referees awarded the goal to the Capitals giving Oshie the hat-trick and Washington a 1–0 series lead. Game 2 was a tight, low-scoring affair and it was Pittsburgh who evened the series with a 2–1 win. Pittsburgh's goals were scored by left winger Carl Hagelin and former-Capital Eric Fehr, and Washington's only goal was scored by center Marcus Johansson. Captials goalie Braden Holtby made 35 saves, while his counterpart Matt Murray made only 23.

The series shifted to the Consol Energy Center for Game 3. The Penguins opened the game with first period goals from right wingers Patric Hornqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl to grab a 2–0 lead heading into the first intermission. Carl Hagelin added to the Penguins' lead with a goal in the second period for a 3–0 lead. Washington would try to comeback as Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams scored in the third period for the Caps to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3–2. That would turn out to be the final score of the game, giving the Penguins a 2–1 series lead.[28] Pittsburgh's Kris Letang, however, was suspended for the next game for leaving his feet just before hitting Marcus Johansson. He was originally whistled for interference, and then was suspended one game by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for making Johansson's head the main point of contact.[29] Game 4 began with a backhanded shot by center Jay Beagle that went over Matt Murray's shoulder to give the Capitals a 1–0 lead three minutes into the game. That lead lasted for about seven minutes, as Penguins' defenseman Trevor Daley scored a goal from a slapshot that deflected off Caps' defenseman Karl Alzner and past Holtby to tie the game. Early in the second period, Pittsburgh center Matt Cullenscored after a lucky bounce off the boards that sent the puck on his stick to set him up for a breakaway goal. Later in the period, however, Washington tied the game after defenseman John Carlson roofed a shot past Murray and into the net. Late in the third period, Alzner received a penalty for high-sticking Sidney Crosby, but the Penguins could not capitalize and the game went to overtime. The sudden-death overtime period did not last long, as Hornqvist scored for Pittsburgh 2:34 into overtime to give the Penguins a 3–2 win in the game and a 3–1 series lead. Pittsburgh had lost 8 consecutive playoff overtimes prior to this game.

The Capitals could not afford to lose another game, as they faced elimination heading into Game 5. They got off to a good start in Game 5, grabbing a 1–0 lead off of an Ovechkin slapshot. The Penguins quickly responded with a goal from Chris Kunitz that was scored from a rebound in front of the net, but Washington regained the lead later on when Ovechkin assisted on Oshie's go-ahead goal that made the score 2–1. Justin Williams followed this by capitalizing on a Brian Dumoulin turnover to put the Capitals ahead, 3–1. There was no scoring in the third period, giving Washington a 3–1 win to keep their season alive. The Capitals got off to a disastrous start in Game 6, surrendering the first 3 goals of the game to Pittsburgh (scored twice by right winger Phil Kessel and once by Carl Hagelin). Oshie scored late in the second period to give Washington some life and make the score 3–1. Justin Williams and John Carlson both scored in the third period to tie the game for Washington after being down 3–0. The game went to overtime. Nick Bonino scored the overtime winner for Penguins off a rebound in front of Caps' goaltender Braden Holtby to give Pittsburgh a 4–3 win in the game and a 4–2 win in the series.

This was Pittsburgh's 8th playoff series win against Washington in 9 meetings. Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals and Carl Hagelin of the Penguins lead the series with seven points (two goals, five assists; and three goals, four assists, respectively) in six games.

2017 Edit

2016–17 saw the two rivals not only finish as the top 2 regular season teams in their division and conference, but also the top 2 teams in the entire National Hockey League. Washington finished with the best regular season record, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the conference quarterfinals, while Pittsburgh finished with the second best record and defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in their series. This marked the 10th Washington–Pittsburgh playoff series.

Game 1 was held at the Verizon Center in D.C. There was no scoring in the first period, but in the second period Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals before 2 minutes had elapsed in the period. Before the second intermission, his star counterpart, Alex Ovechkin, took a slapshot and blazed the puck past Fleury and into the cut the Pittsburgh lead in half. At the start of the third period, Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game, with defenseman and former Penguin Matt Niskanen getting the assist. Pittsburgh regained the lead after center Scott Wilson made a pass to Nick Bonino that sent him on a breakaway, which Bonino capitalized on with a wrist shot. Despite a flurry of Capitals chances to tie the game, the Penguins held on to win Game 1 3–2 and take a 1–0 series lead. Game 2 was also won by Pittsburgh, this time in a lopsided fashion as they won 6–2 behind two-goal performances from Phil Kessel and rookie Jake Guentzel, along with a goal by Matt Cullen and Evgeni Malkin. Nick Backstrom had two points for the Capitals, but it was not nearly enough in the loss. Holtby was pulled after stopping only 11 of 14 shots, being replaced by backup Philipp Grubauer. Fleury, however, stopped 34 of 36 shots for the Penguins in the game.

The Capitals headed to PPG Paints Arena in a 2–0 series hole and wanted to avoid falling behind 3–0 in the series. They got the start they wanted in Game 3 as Backstrom put Washington ahead 1–0 in the first period on a five-on-three power play. It wasn't until the third period that the Caps got an insurance goal with Kuznetsov's 2–0 goal 9:46 into the the third period. With only a couple of minutes left in regulation, the Penguins were down by two goals and had been kept off the scoreboard, but that was short-lived, as Evgeni Malkin cut the Caps' lead in half. That was followed by defenseman Justin Schultz firing the puck past Holtby to tie the game. Both of the Pens' goals were scored while their own net was empty to make room for an extra skater. The Penguins headed into overtime with confidence, but their comeback fell short as Washington's newly acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power play goal in the extra session to cut Pittsburgh's series lead in half. This game was also noted for Capitals' defenseman Matt Niskanen's hit on Sidney Crosby that many saw as a deliberate headshot, including the referees, and Niskanen was assesed five and a game misconduct.[32] The NHL reviewed the hit, and deemed it not a dirty hit, so Niskanen did not face any discipline.[33] In Game 4, the Penguins did not have Crosby in the lineup because of concussion-related symptoms. They did, however, jump out to a 2–0 lead after goals from Patric Hornqvist in the first period and Justin Schultz in the second period. The Capitals roared back with two second period goals of their own, scored 1:12 apart from Kuznetsov and defenseman Nate Schmidt. Later in the period, John Carlson was called for roughing, putting the Penguins on the power play. Pittsburgh capitalized on the man advantage, with Justin Schultz getting the power play goal. The game went down to the wire, as the score remained 3–2 with just over a minute to play. In the final minutes, Oshie was called for high-sticking Nick Bonino,[34] however, replays showed that Oshie's stick never even touched Bonino's face.[35] The Penguins held on to win Game 4, 3–2, to take a 3–1 series lead heading into D.C. for Game 5.

The series shifted back to the Verizon Center for Game 5. With Sidney Crosby back in the lineup and the Penguins up 2–1 after two periods, they had a chance to close out the series and earn a trip back to the Eastern Conference Finals, but it all went downhill for them starting from the puck drop for the third period. Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Alex Ovechkin scored to help the Caps bounce back to win Game 5, 4–2, and send the series back to Western Pennsylvania for Game 6.[36] Washington rode their momentum generated in Game 5 into Game 6, as they tallied the first five goals of the game. John Carlson, T. J. Oshie, and Nicklas Backstrom scored once each for the Capitals, while André Burakovsky scored two. With Washington leading 5–0 with minutes left, Pittsburgh scored two goals, yet the Caps still won 5–2. Braden Holtby made 16 saves on 18 shots to send the series to a decisive Game 7 on Washington ice.

For the 4th time in history, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals played a Game 7 against each other. The first period did not have any goals scored: Marc-Andre Fleury and his counterpart, Holtby, were having a solid game thus far. In the second period, the Penguins used a Washington turnover to generate a scoring chance: Rookie Jake Guentzel made a timely pass to teammate Bryan Rust, who scored to put the visitors on the board. This proved to be the only goal of the period, as the Penguins went into the second intermission up 1–0. Then, in the third period, Patric Hornqvist wristed a shot over Holtby's shoulder to add insurance to Pittsburgh's lead. Pittsburgh did not relinquish their 2–0 lead, as they shut out their arch-rivals in Washington to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year. Fleury made 29 saves for Pittsburgh in the deciding win. Pittsburgh went on to defeat Ottawa in the conference finals and followed that series victory with a defeat of the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals in six games to win their fifth Stanley Cup. This also be the 5th Stanley Cup they would win following a series victory against the Capitals.

See also Edit

  • Capitals–Flyers rivalry
  • Capitals–Rangers rivalry
  • Flyers–Penguins rivalry
  • Ravens–Steelers rivalry
  • National Hockey League rivalries