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Penguins' Fehr on other side now for Game 5

Can reach Eastern Conference Final by eliminating Capitals, his former team

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Eric Fehr isn't ready to embrace the irony of his situation, even though it's as obvious as the fact he will be in the lineup for Game 5 against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Fehr didn't play in Game 4 on Wednesday because of an undisclosed injury. He practiced the last two days and expects to play Saturday, saying he feels 100 percent.

"I'm really trying not to look to that next round," Fehr said after the Penguins morning skate.

While that's understandable, the Penguins have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, which means Fehr is one win from advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, a round he never got to despite four trips to the second round as a player for the Capitals.

"The team across the hallway is a desperate team and we know what they're capable of," Fehr said of Washington. "So I'm not looking to that third round quite yet."

Video: Pens know to expect desperate Capitals team in Game 5

Fehr has a good reason to be hesitant. He's all too familiar with disappointment in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, having played for the Capitals for nine of his first 10 NHL seasons.

Most recently there was last season, when Washington blew a 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers and lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round. He was on the Capitals in 2013 when they had a 3-2 series lead against the Rangers the first round and never scored another goal.

And there was 2010 when the Capitals, the Presidents' Trophy winners, blew a 3-1 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round and lost 2-1 in Game 7 despite a 42-16 edge in shots on goal.

Fehr also was with the Capitals when they lost Game 7 of the conference semifinals against the Penguins in 2009, and Game 7 in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers in the conference quarterfinals in 2008. In fact, he lost six of nine Game 7s with the Capitals.

"To be honest, most of the time when we lost series in the past it was when we had a big lead," Fehr said. "We weren't behind a lot. I'm expecting a high-powered offense from their team and a lot of forechecking. There's a lot of character on the other side and we expect a good effort."

While he isn't ready to grasp the obvious irony of how he'll have to beat his former team to get to a round he never got to with them, Fehr admitted this series has been kind of interesting for him.

"It's really tough to explain when you're going against some of your good friends and you're leaving it all out there," Fehr said. "You're hitting as hard as you can and you're trying to score. It's a little bit different, but it's something that I've become more used to as the year's gone on."

Fehr said he spoke to some of his former teammates after the last time the Penguins played the Capitals in the regular season and everyone knew any communication would have to cease until after the playoffs because of the likelihood they would meet sometime during the postseason.

"I haven't texted anyone or spoken to anyone since," he said.

There was the time in Game 1 when Capitals forward Tom Wilson came charging at Fehr and hit him hard into the boards. Wilson started yapping at him, and everybody else on the Penguins bench.

Fehr and Wilson are close friends.

"That was a moment where it was like, 'This is happening,'" Fehr said.

He may get another one of those moments Saturday, perhaps in a handshake line, and wouldn't that be strange? Here's Fehr, a player who knows too well all the stories about Washington's playoff disappointment. But to get to where he wants to go, he'll have to be part of another chapter.

"We have a job to do and that's to get to the next round," Fehr said. "You play hard, you play within the rules and whatever happens, happens."

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