WASHINGTON -- Mike Knuble didn't believe what he was feeling.
"I didn't have a shift in the overtime and he's tapping me on the shoulder," said the 37-year-old Washington Capitals forward. "I am glad he didn't tell me anything either because it didn't allow me time to get to nervous."
While there were other younger and likely more suitable options, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau turned to his oldest player. Knuble, who scored the game's first goal but had gone scoreless through his four career shootout opportunities, proceeded to wait out Marc-Andre Fleury and fire the puck over the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie's glove to seal a 4-3 victory at Verizon Center Wednesday night.
"He just went in and did what he does, which is shoot the puck and he scored a goal," Boudreau sad. "I just felt that he was going to score."
It was one of the most anticipated games since the last time these two teams met Feb. 7, and it didn't disappoint. While the Caps didn't come back from three goals down like that game, and the Penguins didn't have to drive through the aftermath of a blizzard to get here, Washington did come back from two deficits: 2-1 after two periods and 2-0 in the shootout.
After Alexander Semin tied the game on an unassisted shorthanded goal at the 5:36 mark of the third period, Eric Fehr gave the Caps a 3-2 lead when he deflected in a Mike Green shot two minutes later.
Jordan Staal countered with a snap shot that flew over Caps goalie Jose Theodore with three minutes left in regulation.
"For a lot of reasons, that's the type of game we expect from our team and the way we can play," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "From the way we started and played the first [period], to responding when things didn't go our way and sticking with it and getting the goal we got from Jordan Staal. It was a big play. That's the way you need to play."
The Penguins fell to 0-3 on the season to the Capitals, not that Bylsma said that's a true indicator of how his team played Washington.
"We played a team with the most points in the league tonight," Bylsma said. "I don't think you are going to win every game against them. They are a good team. The way we played is the way we have to play."
Unlike the last time these teams met, this game didn't center around superstars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The winners of the last three MVP awards who combined for five goals in February each had an assist and a shootout goal Wednesday.
The Penguins were without forward Evgeni Malkin (foot) and defenseman Sergei Gonchar (illness). Crosby has scored only twice in his career in the 15 games Malkin wasn't in the lineup.
The Caps played without forward Brooks Laich, who sat in the press box after he took a puck to the face during Tuesday's practice. He could be back as early as this weekend, Boudreau said earlier Wednesday.
On this night, Boudreau's deep roster more than filled the gap.
"They are fun games," Knuble said. "Both teams were a little shorthanded, so you can take what you can for what it's worth. We were happy with our effort and [for] not quitting. It's what's expected out of us and it's what we expect for each other."