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How to watch Capitals vs. Penguins Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018

How to watch Capitals vs. Penguins Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018

2018 saw the Capitals finally hoisting the Stanley Cup for the very first time. Before that, however, they had to go through their division rival and back-to-back champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Evgeny Kuznetsov "exorcised the demons" with his breakaway, overtime game-winning goal in Game 6 to propel the Caps to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998.

Sunday, March 29, NBC Sports Washington will be airing Games 2, 3, 5 and 6 of Round 2 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Capitals and Penguins. Here's how to tune in.

When: Sunday, March 29, 11 a.m.

Where: 

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms


Broadcast Schedule:

11 a.m.: NHL Classics: 2018 Playoffs Round 2: Pittsburgh @ Washington Game 2 

2 p.m.: NHL Classics: 2018 Playoffs Round 2: Washington @ Pittsburgh Game 3

4:30 p.m.: NHL Classics: 2018 Playoffs Round 2: Pittsburgh @ Washington Game 5

7:00 p.m.: NHL Classics: 2018 Playoffs Washington @ Pittsburgh Game 6

What happened in Round 2 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Game 2: After the Penguins took Game 1, the Caps came back strong to even the series in Game 2, defeating the Penguins 4-1 at Capital One Arena. The Caps struck early, with Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana each netting a goal in the first period. In the second period, the Penguins got their only goal of the game, but not before the Caps went up by three goals thanks to a breakaway goal by Brett Connolly. In the third, the Pens tried to come back with what looked to be goal number two, but was called a no-goal by just millimeters. The Caps finished it off by a beautiful empty-netter by Nicklas Backstrom to even the series and win 4-1.

Game 3: The Caps headed up North to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins for Game 3 and came out with a 4-3 win to take the series lead. The first period remained scoreless after three puck bounces didn't go the Caps' way on some solid chances. In the second, the Caps took advantage of a power play just seconds into the period, John Carlson netting the slapshot to take the 1-0 lead. Minutes later, however, Jake Guentzel caught the rebound in front of the net to tie it at 1. Another few minutes later, the Pens took advantage of a penalty on Brooks Orpik to take the 2-1 lead, Patric Hornqvist tapping it past Braden Holtby. The Caps finally answered with a Chandler Stephenson close-range slapshot to tie it at 2, but the Pens came right back to take the lead heading into the third with a Sidney Crosby highlight-reel caliber goal. In the third, Matt Niskanen sent one over Matt Murray's glove six minutes into the period to tie the game at 3. With just over a minute to play, a vintage Nicklas Backstrom to Alex Ovechkin sealed the deal for the Caps to secure the 4-3 win.

 

Game 5: After the Pens took Game 4, the Caps headed back to Washington to try and reclaim the series lead, and came out victorious with a commanding 6-3 win. The Pens took the lead early in the first with a goal by Jamie Oleksiak. The Caps finally answered with two late first period goals in 33 seconds, the first a slapshot by John Carlson, followed by Brett Connolly to take the 2-1 lead heading into the second. In the second, the Penguins took the 3-2 lead, scoring two unanswered goals. But in the third period, all hell broke loose. The Caps returned to score FOUR unanswered goals in the third to beat the Penguins 6-3.

Game 6: The Game that "exorcised the demons," for Washington, the Caps returned to Pittsburgh for what would be a final Game 6 to propel them to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998. Superb goaltending by Braden Holtby and Matt Murray rendered both teams scoreless heading into the second period. Alex Chiasson got the first goal of the game to put the Caps up 1-0 just a few minutes into the second, but Kris Letang answered for the Pens with a slapshot to tie it. More Penguins' chances in the second were stopped by more highlight-reel caliber goaltending by Holtby heading into the pivotal third period, which resulted in overtime. After the Pens rang one off the post, the Caps followed minutes later with an Alex Ovechkin pass to a wide-open Evgeny Kuznetsov, who shot it past Murray to "exorcise the demons" and give the Caps their first Eastern Conference Final appearance in 19-years.

Don't miss the chance to relive the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs Sunday, March 29 on NBC Sports Washington.

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How the 24-team playoff both helps and hurts the Capitals

How the 24-team playoff both helps and hurts the Capitals

The return to play format for the NHL is not set in stone and there are still some details that need to be worked out, but it certainly appears as if there will be a 24-team playoff when the league resumes and the Capitals will get a bye through the first round as one of the top-four teams in the Eastern Conference. At face value, that's a good thing. Out of 24 teams, only eight are guaranteed to make it to the next round and the Caps are one of those eight. But no one is quite sure how teams will look when the season resumes and with that uncertainty comes the possibility that the first-round bye might not actually be a positive.

Let's be clear, a bye through the first round is not a bad thing. The NHL has more parity than any other sports league and no one is guaranteed to win a series regardless of who they play. Really, this is about how ready Washington is going to be for a playoff series after sitting out the first round.

When the NHL put its season on pause, just about everyone had an opinion on how things should look when play resumed. If there was one thing all of the players agreed on, except for Alex Ovechkin, it was that the league should not simply jump into the playoffs. Teams had to be able to play games before that whether it be regular-season games or exhibitions. After so much time away from the ice and away from the team, everyone is going to look rusty when they return to the ice. No one wants to go straight from an abbreviated training camp into a do-or-die playoff series. With the NHL pause stretching into May, however, and with no timetable for a return just, time is a factor the league must consider in terms of being able to finish the current season and still have a full 82-games season in 2020-21. As of the time of writing, it does not appear that teams will be able to play exhibition games upon returning...except for the top seeds.

Based on the format that is currently expected to be agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA, the top four teams from each conference will play a round-robin to determine playoff seeding during the first round. While 16 teams will have to go from no hockey, to an abbreviated training camp right to what will likely be a best of five playoff series, the top seeds like the Caps will get three exhibition games before starting the playoffs.

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Granted, these would not technically be exhibition games because they would matter in terms of seeding, but even if the Caps were to be blown out in all three games, they would still advance to the second round. Not having to step into a best of five series with the season on the line immediately out of the pause is a huge advantage, or at least it is when looking just at the first round. But what will happen in the second?

When teams like Washington get their first chance to step onto the ice in the postseason it won't be against teams coming off exhibition games. Instead, the Caps will be playing a team that battled through three to five playoff games. While Washington will be trying to dial up the intensity to playoff levels, they will be playing against a team that has been playing at that intensity for a series already.

Who would you give the edge to between a team that just played a playoff series and one coming out of a three-game preseason?

What will make the 2020 postseason fascinating is the fact that we have absolutely no idea what to expect. This is completely unchartered territory.  Maybe the bye-in round will see teams suffer a number of injuries as they ramp up the intensity too quickly from training camp to postseason and the top seeds breeze past their weakened opponents. Maybe three round-robin games will be all it takes to get the Capitals back up to game speed and ready for their first playoff series. Or maybe teams coming off of a playoff series will find themselves in better game shape, more in sync and better prepared for a playoff series than a team coming off a bye that was preceded by a pause of several months. If we look back at this postseason and see that an overwhelming majority of the top eight seeds lose in their first matchups against teams that were already playing playoff hockey, would it really be that big of a shock?

If given the choice between having to step directly into a do-or-die best of five series or being in the Caps' position of getting a bye and playing three exhibition games before a playoff series, of course you should pick the bye. No team is guaranteed to win that first-round matchup, especially with all the uncertainty of the current season. But that does not mean that the bye won't end up proving detrimental in the second round as teams struggle to get up to playoff speed.

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T.J. Oshie doesn't believe shootouts should dictate results in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

T.J. Oshie doesn't believe shootouts should dictate results in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

T.J. Oshie is no stranger to success in shootouts, especially in big games. Namely, his performance in the 2014 Sochi Olympics against Russia earned him that reputation.

If the shootout style was ever brought to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the NHL, there's a chance that Oshie's name would once again be called upon. However, the Capital isn't set on that scenario becoming a reality. 

As of now, playoff matchups head into as many overtimes as needed rather than a shootout. While that can be draining for players, Oshie believes it is a more genuine way to determine results in the postseason. Hockey is a sport that forces a team to come together as a whole, and he feels that shootouts take that away.

“Selfishly I’d love to see it. But I just look back and see some of the games that went to five overtimes and played past midnight," Oshie told NHL on NBC during a re-airing of his performance in the 2014 Olympics. “In the playoffs you need everyone on the ice, everyone doing their job. The shootout just feels a little bit more one-on-one.”

"So I don’t think it has a place in playoffs," he added.

As Oshie noted, he could see the fun and excitement in having shootouts in the playoffs due to his personal success experiences in those moments. Yet, his time in postseason runs, including Washington's 2018 championship has given him a larger perspective on the grind that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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The Capitals' Stanley Cup run was filled with grueling moments, but the success came from the team's effort altogether. Individual performances sparked big moments, but the Capitals were only as good as the sum of all their parts. To take that away in the biggest of moments is something that Oshie sees as wrong for the sport and the players who worked hard to get there.

“It’s just, after winning, I think you realize how much you need everybody playing well and so I think everyone deserves to play in those big moments," Oshie said.

So, while Oshie loves participating in late-game heroics, he'll take his chance at an overtime goal rather than a shootout. He does, however, understand that the continuation of the golden goal format could lead to more games with multiple extra periods. Though he is okay with those happening in place of a shootout, he also knows that he probably just talked himself into a lot more of those situations in the future.

“Watch I’ll go to like a five-overtime game and be dying an need an IV," Oshie joked. "And maybe change my tune.”

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