Marek Malik’s improbable goal in the 15th round of the shootout caps an eventful day in New York.

NEW YORK (AP) – Marek Malik probably wouldn’t know Nate Robinson if they crossed paths in the corridors of Madison Square Garden.

But the unlikely duo now share one amazing day they could talk about for ages.

Malik, a defenseman from the Czech Republic with no goals this season, ended the NHL’s longest shootout Saturday night with a circus shot through his legs in the 15th round that gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.

Just hours earlier in the building billed as “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Robinson – a rookie guard – answered Allen Iverson’s 3 with a buzzer-beating rainbow shot that lifted the Knicks to a 105-102 overtime win at the expense of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Two home teams, two extra-time wins on the final play, by two guys from whom such heroics wouldn’t be expected.

It was the second doubleheader sweep by the teams in seven days.

Robinson, who stands only 5-foot-9, came up huge right after Iverson tied it. Not bad for a guy finding his way in the NBA.

The Seattle native entered averaging fewer than six points and 13 minutes per game. The winning 3 gave him a career-high 17 points in his 12th pro game.

“I just knew if I get it up high enough I would have a good chance of making it,” said Robinson of his shot from the deep right corner.

“I felt in my heart it was going in.”

Malik can certainly relate to that.

After 14 rounds of the NHL’s new penalty shot tiebreaker, it was finally his turn.

With Tom Poti knocked out by a groin injury, the Rangers were down to only two healthy non-goalies. It takes that long to get to Malik, who hasn’t scored in 39 games, and has only 27 career goals in 488 contests.

Then he pulled out a trick shot no one saw coming, especially goalie Olie Kolzig.

Malik skated straight in, pulled the puck back between his legs, and reached around with his stick to smack in a shot.

He said he’s practiced it before and had plenty of time to think about it since 29 shooters went before him.

“Olie was unbelievable,” Malik said. “Guys tried everything on him. I just thought to myself, Maybe I’ll surprise him.’ I tried the move and it worked.”

Nothing to lose there, just like Robinson, who quickly earned Iverson’s respect.

“The sky’s the limit for him,” Iverson said.

“There’s no way we win without him,” Knicks coach Larry Brown said.

This might be the pinnacle for Malik. But he wouldn’t have gotten a chance to shine if not for teammate Henrik Lundqvist, who made 35 saves before the shootout and then stopped 12 breakaways.

On top of that, the Rangers stared elimination in the face twice.

The first came in the sixth round when Ville Nieminen answered Brian Willsie’s goal. The next was in the 14th when forward-turned-defenseman Jason Strudwick scored a goal just as unlikely as Malik’s after Bryan Muir put Washington ahead.

“I think Jason Strudwick should buy a lottery ticket,” Nieminen said.

Strudwick, with one goal, has dressed for only 14 of 26 games.

He was moved up to forward Saturday in place of injured Steve Rucchin and even took his role of alternate captain.

No one thought he’d pick up the scoring slack, especially in a shootout in which the league’s top scorer, Jaromir Jagr, was stopped along with Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin – the NHL’s rookie goal leader.

“I’ve been talking to guys about it, sooner or later the shootout is going to go deep,” Strudwick said. “I haven’t been that nervous in a long time.”

Kolzig matched Lundqvist, he just had less work. He saw 26 shots before facing 15 in the shootout.

“It was actually kind of fun,” Kolzig said. “On this stage, Madison Square Garden, Saturday night … If I stop Jason Strudwick we win the game. I didn’t expect Malik to pull a move off like that.”

That move stretched the Rangers’ winning streak to five, New York’s longest since a similar run from March 30-April 8, 2002.

The Rangers (16-7-3) are nine over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1995-96 season.

Atlantic Division-leading New York is the first team with four shootout wins (4-1). Washington could’ve had that distinction but the Capitals lost their second straight (3-2). Ovechkin failed to score in a shootout for the first time.

“The first couple of shots it was pretty fun, but then you start to think about the extra point,” Lundqvist said. “You start to get a little bit nervous.

“But the finish was awesome.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.