The disallowed goal by Mike Knuble with less than a minute remaining in the second period could have easily been a tipping point Friday night for the Capitals, who to that pont had out-shot and out-chanced their foes with nothing to show for it.
But the frustration with the call seemed to bring out the best in Washington in the third period as it continued to push forward until it cashed in for two goals and an important 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
“We got a goal disallowed and that’s always tough, but the guys, they were ready to play tonight. They played hard and they wanted the win bad,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “It’s one of those things, whatever view you look at it, it’s one of those things that the ref thought it was and we have to accept it.”
Knuble, who was in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the previous three games, positioned himself in his office at the top of the opposing crease and tipped a shot by Brooks Laich that would have tied the game at 1 with 44.6 seconds remaining in the middle period.
Referee Eric Furlatt waved the goal off instantly, though, and instead called goaltender interference on Knuble. (More on Knuble and his first game back in the lineup on Capitals Insider on Saturday.) It was a tough break for the Capitals and the veteran right winger, who hasn’t scored since Dec. 5 at Florida.
“There’s no doubt it’s frustrating, but at the same time, you’ve got to try and say to yourself, ‘You know what? You’re in the right spot.’ You get those old feelings back that you’re in the right spot and where you’re supposed to be,” Knuble said. “It’s almost not shocking when it’s waved off. In that respect, it’s how it’s going. You try and turn it into a positive and be like, ‘Yeah, I’m where I’m supposed to be’ and I can talk about it and that, but you want to show that that’s where you’re going to hang out and that’s where you’re going to be.”
Each Capital who spoke with reporters disagreed with the call, but in the third they kept working at creating more offensive opportunities until they broke through.
“It felt like a playoff game where there’s a huge amount of desperation and frustration in the room,” forward Jeff Halpern said. “And I don’t care who it is, you’re going to squeeze the stick a little, you’re going to tighten up – not tighten up where you can’t play but tighten up where you’re frustrated. So to get rewarded I thought was big.
“We have 20 something games left. It’s just one game,” Halpern continued. “We’ve dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole we have to get out of. It helps to win at least one.”
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