Ovi tackles his teammates after Mike Knuble's second period goal.

Ovi tackles his teammates after Mike Knuble's second period goal. (Photo credit: Dave Sandford)

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus

After a year of build-up and three glorious episodes of HBO’s 24/7, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins finally met at Heinz Field in front of 68,111 loud, screaming fans to compete in the 2011 Winter Classic. Much like the 39 games before and the 42 games to follow, this game counted the exact same amount in the standings: two points.

But both you and I know it meant waaaaaay more than that. You could see it in how the Caps played, celebrated and spoke after the game. This was the biggest game they had ever played in their NHL careers. And it showed.

At 8:17pm the first puck dropped. It would then take over twenty-two compelling game minutes to see the 2011 Classic’s first goal. In the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury made a routine stick save along the ice on Alex Ovechkin. Kris Letang then took the rebound and alertly flung the puck up ice where he found a streaking Evgeny Malkin. The Capitals’ defense, caught on a bad change, allowed Malkin to go in all alone on Semyon Varlamov. Malkin went five-hole and the the Penguins took a 1-0 lead.

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The 2011 Winter Classic in Photos


Ovi and Semin play soccer pre-game.

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Rachel Cohen's Sign at the Winter Classic

Rachel Cohen, RMNB’s resident illustrator, made this awesome sign for tonight’s game. Please make sure to keep a look out for her during the national broadcast. She will be holding this sign proudly all night. Most importantly, now that we’re less than an hour away from the game…


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Alex Ovechkin holds Alex Semin's Niece

After Caps practice concluded today, players and team members were treated to a free skate in which they could bring their friends and family onto the ice. The one person who seemed to have the most fun was none other than Alex Ovechkin, who celebrated the Russian New Year on the Winter Classic ice at 4pm.

Ovi began the free skate by pulling his non-hockey-playing brother Mikhail along with a stick. Next, he set his sights for Alex Semin’s young niece and gave her a trek across the ice on top of his shoulders. After noticing a few kids throwing a football around, Ovechkin got into the action and threw the ball to the kids the entire length of the ice. Several times the bouncing football almost hit one of the NHL Network’s reporters on live TV. Finally, Ovechkin concluded his skate by giving George McPhee’s son, Graham, a wedgie we’re sure he’ll remember for life.

Since we figured you’d want to actually see all of this, the photos and video are below the jump. Enjoy.

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Sasha Minor talks about the conditions of the ice, how to stay focused, and who came to Pittsburgh to support him with the NHL Network’s Alyonka Larianov.

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Mike Green‘s friends from Calgary got engaged at center ice after the Capitals concluded their Winter Classic practice. Above Jeff Leachman and his future wife Lindsey, tell the story.

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Washington Capitals Winter Classic Team Photo

Your new desktop background: The entire Caps’ roster smiles for the camera ahead of the Winter Classic. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Above, are highlights from the Caps Pens Alumni Game where the two-period exhibition ended in a 5-5 tie. One of my favorite All-Time Capitals, Peter Bondra, tied the game in the final few minutes with a wicked slap shot from the middle of the circles. In Bonzai’s post-game scrum with the media, he revealed that the scrimmage actually got quite intense.

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The Russian Machine Guide to Pittsburgh

Now Entering Pittsburgh! Not too late to turn around.

Yinz goin ta Pittsburgh? Well, that’s your call, and I won’t judge you for it. Actually, I’m going too, so I thought I’d assemble a quick primer on the Steel City. I consulted my buddy Kenny, who matriculated at University of Pittsburgh, and my former ladyfriend eBagel, who attended pretty much every other school in the city. They advised me on the history of the city, some sights and sounds, and where to get properly sauced up before the game. Readers, please print this article out and stuff it in your fanny pack while travelling the Pitt-y wilds. It’s an untamed land full of hooligans and ne’er-do-wells, cutpurses and castrati, Pensbloggers and Super Swamper Boggers, and– of course– the ever-swelling army of Max Talbot’s illegitimate children. Let’s jump on in.

Pittsburgh Fast Facts!

  • Pittsburgh was first settled in 1983 by the occupants of a Bon Jovi roadie van that blew a tire on the turnpike.
  • Pittsburgh’s main export is gristle.
  • Since the collapse of the big steel, Pittsburgh has been supported by the atherosclerotic plaque industry.
  • Beer can be purchased only from distributors. Liquor and wine are sold elsewhere.
  • If you request transportation to Heinz Field, the correct phrasing would be: “can you ride me to Heinz?” Transitive verbs hold no meaning within city limits.

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Capitals Skate Outdoors Before Winter Classic

Capitals Outdoor Practice (2 of 22)

Editor’s note: Caps Snaps’ Chris Gordon was your man on the street for the Capitals’ outdoor skate at Chevy Chase yesterday. Here’s his report.


Ovi sported a grease mustache for the practice.

The Caps got a little taste of outdoor hockey on Wednesday at a venue that was somewhat less imposing than Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The practice at the Chevy Chase Club’s rink was closed to the public, but with the Winter Classic just three days away it still attracted a sizable crowd of club members.

“I think we’ve been looking forward to this all year, since they announced it,” Mike Green said. “It couldn’t come quick enough, now here we are, able to play in the game on Saturday. I know everybody is excited.”

“You wish the whole season was played outdoors.” added Karl Alzner.

The players certainly had fun during their skate in the elements. Every member of the team sported eye black, but some players took it further than others, including captain Alex Ovechkin who drew a mustache above his upper lip. “Just have fun, like laugh,” Ovechkin said. “Like, make a joke.”

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