In a rivalry dominated by Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, it was left to a player who was 0-for-forever in shootouts to decide the latest tussle between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Mike Knuble was plucked off the bench by coach Bruce Boudreau to give it a try for the Capitals in the fourth round of the shootout, even though he had taken only four attempts — and missed them all — since the tiebreaker was introduced in 2005.
He looked like an old pro at the task, scoring with a strong move against Marc-Andre Fleury to give host Washington a 4-3 victory last night.
“I couldn’t believe Bruce was doing it to me,’’ Knuble said. “I didn’t play in overtime at all, so I thought my night was over . . . I told him when I got off the ice, ‘I don’t like you when you do that. Don’t do that stuff to me.’ ’’
So why was he chosen, given his track record? “I didn’t know what he was before,’’ Boudreau said. “I just thought he was going to score.’’
The Capitals have won all three meetings against their nemesis this season by dominating the end game, outscoring Pittsburgh, 8-1, in the third period and overtime. They won for the eighth time in 11 games and tied the franchise points record of 108 set last season.
Jose Theodore made 39 saves for the Capitals, increasing his club-record streak to 19 games (17-0-2) without a loss in regulation, the longest such streak by an NHL goalie in 10 years.
Sabres 3, Canadiens 2 — Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scored in the shootout after host Buffalo rallied with two third-period goals.
Tim Connolly scored a power-play goal with 1:59 left in regulation, and Steve Montador tied it with 47.9 seconds left and goalie Ryan Miller off for an extra attacker. Miller made 26 saves to help the Sabres win their fourth straight game.
Red Wings 4, Blues 2 — Valtteri Filppula scored with 6:49 left and added an empty-net goal, lifting host Detroit to a victory over St. Louis.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made 30 saves, and former Red Wing Ty Conklin stopped 20 shots.
Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings, 9-2-1 since the Olympic break.
Avalanche 4, Kings 3 — Peter Mueller and Chris Stewart had shootout goals to help Colorado beat visiting Los Angeles, despite squandering a late two-goal lead.
Matt Hendricks, Milan Hejduk, and Paul Stastny scored first-period goals, leading Los Angeles to pull starting goalie Jonathan Quick in favor of Erik Ersberg.
Canucks 4, Ducks 1 — Daniel Sedin had a goal and two assists, twin brother Henrik added three assists, and Andrew Raycroft made 30 saves for host Vancouver.
Rangers 5, Islanders 0 — Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist during a three-goal first period for the host Rangers.