March 24, 2010
WASHINGTON – Mike Knuble(notes) figured his night was over. The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins had played to a 3-3 tie on Wednesday, through regulation and overtime, where the winger didn't have a shift.
The game was going to the shootout, where Knuble pretty much stinks: 0-for-4 lifetime, including a miss against the New York Islanders back on Nov. 11. He was the eighth shooter for the Caps in the 11-round marathon.
After three shooters, the Capitals had a chance to win. Coach Bruce Boudreau tapped the fourth shooter on the shoulder. Knuble was stunned to discover it was him. So were his teammates.
So did the crowd, with fans in the upper deck visibly mouthing "Kun-new-bull?" with wide eyes, as a player most famous for scoring "dirty" goals -- like on his garbage-collecting goal in the second period against Pittsburgh -- was being called upon to excel in what is known as a "skills competition."
But Boudreau had a hunch. He didn't know Knuble's shootout record. He said he just knew Knuble was going to score. A gut feeling? "Yeah, and it's a big gut," Boudreau said after the game, before regretting the quip.
The Caps watched him collect the puck and skate in, wondering what he'd attempt. Said goalie Jose Theodore(notes): "He's a power forward. He's usually just going to skate and run the goalie." He opted for a slight head fake -- Knuble called it a "flinch" -- and a "perfect shot," in the eyes of Fehr:
The Capitals defeated their archrivals, 4-3, on what Knuble said would be his "first and last" game-winner in the shootout. "I don't know what it was. I don't like Bruce putting me in that situation," he said. "I don't enjoy that one bit."
Well, save for the winning part.