Fehr-weather Caps beat Pens 3-1 in rainy Classic

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The conditions may have been bad but, for the Capitals, it became a Fehr-weather game.

As a steady rain fell during the third, Fehr put it away with eight minutes remaining by racing to Jason Chimera’s up-ice pass and, a step ahead of defenseman Paul Martin, beating Fleury cleanly with a hard wrist shot from between the circles for his seventh goal.

“It’s frustrating,” said Fleury, who made 29 saves. “There was so much build-up to the game. It’s definitely disappointing to lose that one.”

The teams changed ends halfway through the third period, to keep it fair for both squads amid the worsening weather.

“It was the same conditions for both teams,” NHL 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.”

Ovechkin had a goal disallowed in the third, after incidental contact with Fleury. Pittsburgh’s Mike Rupp had the same situation on Varlamov in the second.

“In the third period, weather became a problem,” Ovechkin said. “But we handled it, and it was a pretty good game.”

Fehr, who had a career-high 21 goals last year, posted his second career multi-goal game, and it helped the Capitals win their fifth in six tries since losing eight straight. Pittsburgh lost for just the fifth time in 21 games.

The fourth Winter Classic became soggy in the third period, when the ice maintained a like-new look as if it was constantly being resurfaced by a Zamboni. There also was a trail behind the puck on any shot or pass.

“Pucks were bouncing everywhere,” Fehr said. “Sometimes they’re sticking on the ice. It was really tough to make any passes out there.”

Maybe this was a first, too: Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wore a Tom Landry-style fedora behind the bench. Capitals coach Boudreau chose not to wear headgear on a 50-degree night _ the warmest yet for the Winter Classic _ that caused the temporary ice to become choppy.

Ovechkin was a victim of the ice, tumbling onto his stomach while winding up a shot from the blue line with about three minutes remaining in a scoreless first period.

Crosby also took a hard fall, but it had nothing to do with the ice. He was felled by a blindside hit to the head from Capitals center David Steckel just before the end of the second period.

“I was looking the other way and then I turned to go and I guess he hit me,” Steckel said. “It obviously wasn’t intentional.”

Crosby got up gingerly and had a noticeable limp as he walked down the long walkway to the locker room, the same one normally used by the Steelers. But he took the Penguins‘ first shift of the third period.

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