Photo via varlysuperfan.tumblr.com

After the Capitals packed-up their gear and met with management one final time on breakdown day, the 2011-12 NHL season officially ended. But for a few Caps stars, there is still more hockey to play.

The 2012 World Championships — which are being held in Stockholm and Helsinki this year — began on May 4th while the Capitals started their second round series against the Rangers. The Swedish and Russian national teams, both aware that several of their countries’ best players were still playing in the NHL playoffs, held roster spots open just in case those players’ teams were eliminated.

When the Capitals lost in Game Seven to New York on Saturday, it freed up Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Alex Semin to play for their national teams for a select number of games to end the tournament.

On Tuesday, all three players arrived in Stockholm after a long flight and had an eventful day.

Two hours after Ovechkin and Semin arrived together in Sweden, they hit the ice at Globe arena and practiced with third-string goalie, Mikhail Biryukov. The rest of Team Russia had the day off. Head Coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov announced that the Caps duo would play in Russia’s first quarterfinals game on Thursday and would be on a line with Detroit Red Wings superstar Pavel Datsyuk.

As soon as Backstrom arrived in Stockholm, he told the media waiting for him at the airport that, “I’m going straight to on-ice warmups, I‘d like to play tonight!” And play he did.

Backstrom had an assist and two shots on goal in 18:57 of ice time during Sweden’s 4-0 victory over Latvia.

“It’s fun to play here again and get my first game in,” Backstrom, in his first WC since 2006, was quoted by the IIHF’s official website. “We won, too, so that’s good, and we’re looking forward to the quarter-finals against the Czechs.”

Below, we’ve shared some of our favorite photos and video from the day that was.

Nicklas Backstrom Arrives in Sweden

Photos via sashastolemyheart.tumblr.com

Ovechkin and Semin arrive in Stocholm

Photo via sashastolemyheart.tumblr.com

Nice hat, Sasha Minor! (Photo by rsport.ru)

Photo via sashastolemyheart.tumblr.com

The Ovechhug: Ovechkin Embraces Semyon Varlamov

Photo credit: izvestia.ru

The hug happens at the 28 second mark.

GIF created by carrotbazooka.tumblr.com

Ovechkin and Semin Practice

Photo by championat.com

Photos via varlysuperfan.tumblr.com

Photo credit: sportbox.ru

Backstrom Plays Against Latvia

Photos via sashastolemyheart.tumblr.com