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Caps sit and wait for next opponent

by Corey Masisak /

BOSTON -- The Washington Capitals have defeated the Boston Bruins in the closest seven-game playoff series in Stanley Cup history, but they’re OK with waiting another 24 hours to find out who they will play in the second round.

Washington could face two of the four teams that will play a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference on Thursday night.


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"There is still a long way to go," forward Mike Knuble said. "This is just getting one rung of the ladder out of the way. We’ll enjoy the [heck] out of it tonight, and it will be exciting to see tomorrow who we are going to get."

If New York defeats the Ottawa Senators in the early game Thursday, the Capitals will face the top-seeded Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It would be the third meeting between the two franchises in the past four postseasons.

Washington has won only two playoff series since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1998 -- both have been against the Rangers. They needed seven games in 2009, but only five last spring.

The Capitals were the No. 2 seed in the East in 2009 and the No. 1 seed in 2011. The roles would be reversed for the seventh-seeded Capitals this time around.

Washington and New York split the four games this season. Both teams won a game in the opposing building.

If the Senators defeat the Rangers, the Capitals will have to wait a little longer to find out who they'll play. Should the Florida Panthers defeat the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals would face the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round. If the Devils and Senators win, Washington will start the second round in New Jersey against the Devils.

This would be the fifth postseason matchup between the Capitals and Flyers, and each team has prevailed twice. Joel Ward scored the second Game 7 overtime goal in franchise history Wednesday night -- and Dale Hunter, now Washington's coach -- had the first against the Flyers in 1988.

Philadelphia defeated Washington in seven games in 2008, the first playoff series for the current core group of Capitals.

Washington defeated the Flyers during the team’s 7-0 start to the 2011-12 campaign, but Philadelphia won the final three matchups this season.

New Jersey and Washington have met twice in the postseason, which each franchise winning once. The Devils ended the Capitals’ run in 1988, while Washington won in 1990 en route to the conference finals.

Washington won the first game between the two teams this season, but New Jersey won the next three -- although two were decided in shootouts.

"We’ve got a couple days I think, and then we have to go back at ‘em again," Hunter said. "We don’t even know who we play. It is one of those things you wait and see, and we’ll get going again."

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "To be honest with you, I’m not going to watch the games. I’m just going to chill and control my moods and control emotions."

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