The Capitals-Penguins rivalry was a one-sided one for many years.
This year, however, the Capitals finally triumphed over their hated rivals as they defeated Pittsburgh in a playoff series for the first time since 1994. That put the Penguins in the unfamiliar position of having to watch as Washington went on to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
While most hockey fans have enjoyed the endless party that was the Capitals’ Cup celebration, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have not.
"It's a great story [for the Capitals], but you don't like the fact that you're kind of that close to moving on and then you don't, and that team ends up going on to win," Sidney Crosby said Thursday during the NHL Player Media Tour, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. "That makes you realize how close you actually were."
Both Crosby and Malkin said they did not watch any of the Stanley Cup Final.
While they may not have been watching as the Caps hoisted the Cup, they certainly have been paying attention to what Washington’s players have been saying about a possible repeat.
"We see what they say, that they want the same, back to back, that they want to win again," Malkin said. "We understand they try. They want to be in history too. They don't want it just one time, they want it two times. We understand we're a team that can stop them."
The Caps-Penguins rivalry became one of the league’s premier rivalries when Crosby and Alex Ovechkin both entered the league in 2005. That rivalry has kicked up a notch in recent years as both teams have met in the playoffs in each of the past three seasons with the winner going on each year to win the Cup.
That adds a bit more fire to the rivalry heading into the 2018-19 season as the Penguins set their sights on beating the team that ended their postseason run.
"I think that'll definitely light a fire for us," Crosby said. "That's on your mind when you play that team again. It's just the way it is. That's the way it is when you lose. You've always kind of got that feeling of something to prove and when you win, you've got that feeling of, hey, we've got to stay here."
"We need [the Cup] back," Malkin said during the NHL Player Media Tour on Thursday. "It's like, who wins? Washington wins. The most hated team in Pittsburgh. Of course we want it back."
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