5 Memorable Moments in the Capitals vs Penguins Rivalry

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5 Memorable Moments in the Capitals vs Penguins Rivalry
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins resume one of the best rivalries in all of hockey.

It is a rivalry that has actually been raging for the better part of the past 20 plus years. Many modern hockey fans believe that the Caps vs. Pens rivalry began with Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. That is far from the case.

It was actually back in 1991 when the two teams would meet in the playoffs for the first time. The Pens would easily dispatch the Caps in the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games en route to their first Stanley Cup.

Back then, the Penguins had another superstar on their team by the name of Mario Lemieux and Lemieux was one of the best ever. Along the way, the Pens would add players like Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr and Ulf Samuelsson to the roster and the Penguins would repeat as champions in 1992.

To get there, the Pens would again defeat the Caps in the playoffs but this time they would rally from a 3-1 series deficit to break the hearts of Caps fans everywhere.

The Caps had no shortage of talent back in those days either as they had players like Dino Ciccarelli, Mike Ridley and Kevin Hatcher leading the way. But when the Pens capped off that tremendous rally in the 1992 playoffs, the seeds of this great rivalry were truly planted.

The teams have met in the playoffs a stunning eight times over the years. Even more surprising is the fact that the Penguins have won the series seven of eight times. Twice they have overcome a 3-1 series deficit and twice more they were able to climb out of a 2-0 series hole.

True enough, the rivalry took on a new dimension in 2004 when the Caps drafted Alexander Ovechkin No. 1 overall and the Pens took his countryman Evgeni Malkin with the second pick. Then, when the Pens drafted Sidney Crosby No. 1 overall in the 2005 draft, it was game on between these two teams.

The two teams played one of the all-time great playoff series during the 2009 NHL playoffs and then staged one of the most memorable Winter Classic games so far in 2011.

The rivalry has taken a step back the past couple of years due to Sidney Crosby's struggles to recover from concussions and Alexander Ovechkin's numbers declining somewhat. And as for the game on Tuesday, you are looking at teams going in opposite directions: the Pens have won nine in a row and are the best team in the Eastern Conference while the Caps sit seven points out of the final playoff spot and are a full 19 points inferior to the Pens as far as points are concerned.

Nevertheless, the rivalry has produced some really memorable moments. Let's take a look at five memorable moments from this classic rivalry.

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