The Washington Capitals are one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If they do beat the Blue Jackets in Game 6 or Game 7, a familiar foe awaits them.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday with a 8-5 win in Game 6. They will play the winner of the Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets series.
Because of course they will.
The Penguins have beaten the Capitals in the second round in each of the past two seasons. The series went six games in 2016 and seven in 2017.
Washington’s biggest rival has been a thorn in the side of the Caps throughout the team’s history. Washington and Pittsburgh have met in the postseason 10 times. Only once have the Caps come out victorious, in 1994.
Pittsburgh has won five Stanley Cups in their history and each time, they had to beat the Caps in the playoffs to do it.
The emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin helped to reignite the Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry, but that too has been one sided. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups while Ovechkin has never advanced past the second round.
Before you despair, however, consider this. Coming into the season, no one knew what to expect from the Capitals. Expectations were low. Somehow, Washington managed to overcome the loss of several players in the offseason and managed to win the Metropolitan Division.
In a season in which the Caps have already defied expectations, perhaps this will be the year they finally get past Pittsburgh and advance to the conference final. Maybe? Please?
First things first, they still need one more win against Columbus. Game 6 will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
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— Nick Backstrom's Game 5 heroics, explained
— Capitals' PK unit the series difference-maker
— John Tortorella makes Game 7 proclamation