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Caps players put on a show for home crowd in USA exhibition win over Finland

Caps players put on a show for home crowd in USA exhibition win over Finland

WASHINGTON -- It may have been an exhibition game, but it didn't look like it to the three Caps players who suited up for Team USA on Tuesday. USA managed a 3-2 win over Team Finland thanks in large part to contributions from the hometown heroes in the team's final tune-up game before the World Cup of Hockey.

The Capitals led the NHL in home wins last season with 29 and T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen seemed to pick up right where they left off as soon as they hit the ice with Oshie scoring an early tally to put USA ahead.

"We take pride in playing here," Niskanen said. "We want to play well at home, that's something that we've worked on during the season with the Caps."

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It took Oshie less than two minutes to get USA onto the board, scoring at the 1:08 mark of the first period. Ryan Kesler had the puck behind the net and fed Oshie with a perfect pass that he was able to tuck into the top opposite corner of the net to beat goalie Pekka Rinne.

"Nice to put one on the board before the tournament starts and nice to do it in front of the hometown fans," Oshie said.

USA's second goal was set up by a breakout pass from John Carlson. The Caps defenseman took the puck in his own zone and passed it out to Max Pacioretty on the Finnish blue line. Pacioretty found Blake Wheeler who fed Kesler for the goal in what turned into a nice one-two-three pass play. Carlson was not credited with an assist, but it was his original pass that set up the eventual goal.

Carlson would get on the score sheet later in the second as he turned a Finnish turnover into a Derek Stepan breakaway goal. Jusi Jokinen lost the puck on the boards and Carlson instantly took it and fed Stepan between the Finnish defense.

The only Caps player who did not get on the score sheet was Matt Niskanen, but his presence was still felt on the blue line. Niskanen was second on the team in ice time, coming in behind only Carlson.

If it looked like the three players felt more comfortable on their home ice, it's because they were.

"Coming in here, you know your routine and obviously your home rink probably works best with how your routine goes as far as what time you get here, what you do, how you set your warmup," Carlson said.

"When you're at your home rink you just feel comfortable," Oshie said. "It's almost like it's easier to feel where you are on the ice without having to look around, whereas other buildings, I don't know why, it's the same length and width and everything. It just seems like it's easier."

But with that comfort also comes a measure of pressure to perform well in front of your fans. Some teams and players can wilt under that pressure, but that was not the case for the Caps on Thursday. Instead, it fueled each of them to an impressive night.

Said Niskanen, "Hopefully we made them proud."

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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

HOW DID THE CAPS WIN THEIR SERIES AGAINST COLUMBUS? FIND OUT HERE

But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Capitals vs. Penguins schedule, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Capitals vs. Penguins schedule, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

The Capitals and Penguins face off in the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference semifinals, marking the third consecutive season the two Metro Division rivals have met in the playoffs.

The Capitals have beaten the Penguins in a playoff series just once in ten attempts dating back to 1991, and all five of the Penguins' Stanley Cup Championships included series wins over Washington.

The Capitals and Penguins split the regular-season series 2-2, with both teams picking up wins at home and on the road. The Capitals outscored the Penguins 13-12 over the course of the four regular-season games. 

The Capitals vs. Penguins 2018 NHL Playoff series will begin on Thursday, April 24 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. E.T.

Pregame coverage of the Capitals vs. Penguins on NBC Sports Washington begins an hour before puck-drop with Caps FaceOff, followed by Caps GameTime.

Caps Extra follows each playoff game with Caps OverTime after that. 

Stream Pre- and postgame coverage of Capitals vs. Penguins Game 1 on NBC Sports Washington.

Game 2 information has yet to be released.

CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS 2018 NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Penguins at Capitals
Date: Thursday, April 26
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 2: Penguins at Capitals
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 3: Capitals at Penguins
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Penn.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 4: Capitals at Penguins
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Penn.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 5 (If Necessary): Penguins at Capitals
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 6 (If Necessary): Capitals at Penguins
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Penn.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 7 (If necessary): Penguins at Capitals
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)