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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.

So Knuble sat on the bench, waiting to enjoy watching his teammates battle Marc-Andre Fleury(notes). "You expect you can tune out a little bit, look around at the crowd," he said.

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.

"I was really shocked. I thought they were going to go with a few other guys first," said winger Eric Fehr(notes).

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:

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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.

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