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-Andre 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 Bruce 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."
Coach Bruce Boudreau said he played a hunch.
"I just thought he would score," said Boudreau, whose team is 5-4 in shootout games 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.
The Capitals didn't have much time to savor their victory. They had an 11:30 p.m. flight to Raleigh, N.C., where they'll face the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center tonight.