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Washington Capitals beat Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3, in shootout

Shootout goals from Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble lift Washington over rival Pittsburgh for the third time in three meetings this season.
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mike Knuble scored one goal Washington Capitals' fans have come to expect from the bang-and-crash winger. But he scored another goal that no one -- not even Knuble himself -- could have anticipated.

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Knuble netted his first career shootout goal in the fourth round to lift the Washington Capitals to a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, their third win over the defending champions this season.

After blowing a one-goal lead late in the third period, then falling behind 2-0 in the shootout, the Capitals rallied on goals by Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Knuble, a player known more for his brawn. He gave Marc-André Fleury a little head fake, then buried a wrist shot over the Penguins' goalie's shoulder to give the Capitals 108 points, matching last season's franchise record with nine games remaining.

"I don't know what it was, man," said Knuble, who had been 0 for 4. "I don't like [Coach] Bruce [Boudreau] putting me in that situation. I didn't have a shift in overtime, then he's tapping me on the shoulder. I'm glad he didn't tell me any earlier, because I didn't have time to get nervous. That was a first and probably a last."

Boudreau said he played a hunch.

"I just thought he would score," said Boudreau, whose team is 5-4 in games decided in the shootout this season. "A lot of times when you don't have time to think, it's an advantage. He went in and did what he does -- shoot the puck."

Knuble's goal capped a victory Washington had been in position to close out in regulation.

An unassisted short-handed goal by Alexander Semin and a redirection by Eric Fehr 1 minute 56 seconds apart early in the third period turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. But nothing comes easily against the feisty Penguins. And neither did this win.

José Theodore (39 saves) made an eye-popping stop on Jordan Staal with 3:21 remaining, drawing an ovation from the 50th straight sellout crowd at Verizon Center. But just seconds later, Staal knotted the score with a wrist shot over Theodore's glove from the middle of the circle. It was the first third-period goal the Capitals have surrendered to the Penguins this season.

"They were a determined gritty bunch," Boudreau said. "That's why they're the Stanley Cup champions."

But what the Capitals showed Boudreau in the shootout impressed him more.

"It's never say die," he said. "I don't know how often you go down 2-0 in the shootout and you come back. It's [not] thinking, 'Aw man, we're down 2-0, there's no way'. I don't think we ever think that."

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