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Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

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An open letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans

An open letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans

Dear Pittsburgh Penguins and fans,

Well, it’s been a hell of a run, but finally it’s our turn. It’s our year.

First, congratulations on your amazing run. You won two straight Stanley Cups. That’s an incredible achievement. Yes, we are aware that nothing that happened this year can take away those Cups and yes, we are aware that we still haven’t won one yet.

But your two-year reign is over. And we ended it.

No, we’re not gloating. Believe us, we’ve had plenty of heartbreak in recent years. We wouldn’t wish that on anyone and what you’re going through right now sucks.

Really, we feel relief more than anything.

Can we be honest for a second? We may hate the Penguins, but we love this rivalry. We hate Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby as much as we love Peter Bondra and Alex Ovechkin. Every time we play you it means more. A regular season game in February can feel like the most important game in the world just because we want to destroy you so badly.

It’s been awhile since you’ve been in this position, since 1994 to be exact. Some of you may have trouble accepting this. Some may say “whatever, we’re not even rivals.”

First of all, don’t pretend like we’re not rivals because you hate the Philadelphia Flyers. Everybody hates the Flyers. You’re not unique in this. Second, yes we are rivals. You take over the steps of the National Portrait Gallery outside of Capital One Arena every time you win whether its the regular season or the playoffs. Those are the kind of traditions reserved just for rivals.

Seriously, do you have any big traditions in Phoenix every time you beat the Arizona Coyotes? Are there any major victory gatherings in Miami when you beat the Florida Panthers? No? That’s what we thought.

Yes, we all know we have only beaten Pittsburgh twice in the playoffs in 11 meetings. You can gloat about that all you want, but just like we can’t take anything away from your Stanley Cup runs the last two years, you can’t take any of the joy we feel this year away from us.

No more of this “Alex Ovechkin can’t win” nonsense. He scored the game-winner in Game 3 and had the primary assist in the game-winning goals in Game 5 and Game 6. He has eight goals and 15 points in 12 games this postseason and continues to produce at a point-per-game rate in the playoffs.

No more “Braden Holtby isn’t a playoff goalie” lunacy. He has the second-best save percentage in NHL playoff history.

No more curse.

The best part about this is that this finally feels like a real rivalry again. It always felt that way to us, but with every passing year, with every series loss, there was that nagging feeling that perhaps you may lose interest. Perhaps this won’t mean as much next year as it does now. The only thing worse than seeing a rival win is seeing a rival not care. But we don’t have to worry about that anymore because while you may have beaten the Caps nine times in 11 playoff meetings, we ended your Cup run. We handed Mike Sullivan his first playoff loss and we did it in front of your hometown fans.

We know that stings.

We know that regardless of how dismissive you may try to be about the Capitals, regardless of all the past wins, regardless of all the past Cups, you had to watch Ovechkin celebrate on your ice after beating your team and ending your chance at a three-peat. That will be tough to get over. It will be made worse by the fact that everytime these two teams meet next season, they will show a replay of Evgeny Kuznetsov slipping the puck through Matt Murray's five-hole in overtime. It will eat at you and you will want nothing more than to beat us every time we play just to erase that image and move on from a heartbreaking loss.

Now that's a rivalry. We can't wait either.

See you guys next year.

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How the Caps finally beat the Penguins and finally advanced past the second round

How the Caps finally beat the Penguins and finally advanced past the second round

Well, they finally did it.

For the first time since 1994, the Capitals have beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs and for the first time since 1998, they have advanced to the conference final.

If you thought this was going to be the same old story and the same old Caps again after Game 1, it's hard to blame you. Washington dominated for 55 minutes in that game, but the Penguins scored three goals in a 4:49 stretch to win 3-2. It felt like the quintessential Capitals-Penguins game.

But this year's team proved different.

Here's how the Capitals rallied to beat Pittsburgh for only the second time in franchise history and advance to the conference finals.

The Capitals overcame every obstacle and every challenge as they finally defeated their archrivals, ending Pittsburgh's attempt to win the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year.

It wasn't supposed to happen.

Here's how the Capitals rallied to beat Pittsburgh for only the second time in franchise history and advance to the conference finals.

Given all the players Washington lost in the summer, they came into the season with a roster not nearly as strong as the ones that won the Presidents' Trophy in 2016 and 2017. But while the 2018 Caps were not as good on paper, they have shown themselves to be the best overall team by advancing further than any team in the Alex Ovechkin era has ever gone.

Here's how the Capitals rallied to beat Pittsburgh for only the second time in franchise history and advance to the conference finals.

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