Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:18 p.m.
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Four days after they finished their first-round series, the Capitals still don't know whom they will face in the next round of the playoffs. But at least they can be certain of knowing their opponent after tonight's games.
Had Buffalo defeated the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night, the No. 7 seed Sabres would have been next for the Eastern Conference top seed Caps.
Now, however, it's down to two Game 7s -- Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins.
The one team the Caps can't face next is No. 3 Boston. Washington will face the lowest-seeded survivor from among No. 6 Montreal, No. 5 Tampa Bay and No. 4 Pittsburgh.
The NHL presumably will announce the schedule for the next round late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
Here's how the Caps' season series went against the possible opponents:
Canadiens: The Capitals went 3-0-1 against the Canadiens this season, with Braden Holtby and Semyon Varlamov splitting the four starts. The Caps blanked the Habs twice this season, 3-0, at home on Dec. 28 (Varlamov), and 2-0 in Montreal on March 26 (Holtby).
Lightning: The Capitals went 4-1-1 against Tampa Bay this season with Alexander Semin netting a pair of hat tricks and Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson twice blanking the Caps. Despite the two shutouts, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom had 10 points each against the Lightning.
Penguins: The Capitals went 3-0-1 against the Penguins this season, including a 3-0 shutout win from Michal Neuvirth on Super Bowl Sunday at Verizon Center. Two weeks later, Neuvirth blanked the Penguins again, in a 1-0 win in Pittsburgh, Feb. 21.