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Fehr's two goals lift Capitals

Eric Fehr celebrates after scoring in the second period to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Fehr scored again in the third period.

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Eric Fehr celebrates after scoring in the second period to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Fehr scored again in the third period.

PITTSBURGH — Eric Fehr upstaged stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin by scoring twice and the Capitals waded through rain drops to beat the Penguins 3-1 in a wet Winter Classic on Saturday night.

It was the NHL's first nighttime Winter Classic, and the first played in occasional rain, but the Capitals handled the elements just fine.

Fehr gave Washington its first lead at 2-1 in the second period after Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury abandoned the net, then he sealed it with a breakaway goal in the third. Mike Knuble also scored.

"It was raining pretty good out there," Fehr said. "But it was a perfect night."

Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov, starting because of Michal Neuvirth's thigh injury, gave up Evgeni Malkin's goal in the second period but turned aside the other 32 shots.

The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., but the NHL on Friday pushed back the start because of the rain threat.

The Capitals, perennial playoff underachievers, warmed up to this big game.

"It was close to the Stanley Cup finals," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We don't deny it meant more than just two points. It was a fabulous game."

After a scoreless first period in which the teams adjusted to playing outdoors at night — many never had at any organized level — and the choppy ice laid down on Heinz Field, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead. Malkin took Kris Letang's banked pass off the boards to beat Varlamov inside the near post at 2:15.

Pittsburgh couldn't maintain the momentum, though, and the Capitals held down Crosby, who went scoreless for a second successive game after posting at least one point in 25 consecutive games. He had five shots.

"He's one of the best players in the game," Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. "But it shows that if we stick to our game, we can get it done out there."

As a steady rain fell during the third, the teams changed ends halfway through the period to keep it fair for both squads.

"It was the same conditions for both teams," commissioner Gary Bettman said. "In every stoppage, we were in communication with both teams. And while not perfect, the puck was moving pretty well out there."

"In the third period, weather became a problem," said Ovechkin, who was pointless and had six shots. "But we handled it."

There was a mist at times during the first two periods. In the third, the ice maintained a like-new look as if it were constantly being resurfaced by a Zamboni. There also was a trail behind the puck on any shot or pass.

Penguins forward Jordan Staal, out all season with an infected right foot and a broken right hand, played his first game in nearly eight months. He showed a lot of jump early but didn't figure in the scoring.

Capitals 0 2 1 3
Penguins 0 1 0 1
Capitals 0 2 1 3
Penguins 0 1 0 1

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesMartin, Pit (hooking), 4:40; Green, Was (holding), 8:21; Erskine, Was, major (fighting), 11:52; Rupp, Pit, major (fighting), 11:52.

Second Period1, Pittsburgh, Malkin 14 (Letang, Fleury), 2:13. 2, Washington, Knuble 9 (Backstrom, Green), 6:54 (pp). 3, Washington, Fehr 6 (Johansson), 14:45. PenaltiesLaich, Was (goaltender interference), 2:59; Talbot, Pit (holding), 5:56; Erskine, Was (hooking), 15:37.

Third Period4, Washington, Fehr 7 (Chimera, Erskine), 11:59. PenaltiesKnuble, Was (delay of game), 7:28. Shots on GoalWashington 12-16-4—32. Pittsburgh 16-8-9—33. Power-play opportunitiesWashington 1 of 2; Pittsburgh 0 of 4. GoaliesWashington, Varlamov 7-4-1 (33 shots-32 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 17-9-2 (32-29). A68,111 (65,050).

Fehr's two goals lift Capitals 01/01/11 [Last modified: Sunday, January 2, 2011 12:10am]

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