Detroit Red Wings left wing Justin Abdelkader, left, and Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin collide in the first period on Sunday in Washington.
WASHINGTON — For the second time in three days, Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 39th goal late against the Detroit Red Wings.
This one won’t be taken away.
Ovechkin’s one-timer from the left circle on a power play 2 minutes, 37 seconds into overtime gave the Capitals a 6-5 win today over the Red Wings, earning a split of a home-and-home set and tightening up things even more in the bottlenecked bottom half of the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin was originally credited with the goal that tied the score with 7 seconds left in regulation on Friday in Detroit — a game the Red Wings eventually won in a shootout. The NHL has since reviewed the play and decided it instead belongs to Joel Ward on a deflection.
Ward kept it up Sunday, getting two goals and an assist as he again benefited from the extra attention paid to Ovechkin, particularly on the power play.
In overtime, however, the power play is 4-on-3, and that left plenty of space for the Russian Olympian to drive home the game-winner after Brendan Smith was sent off for tripping.
“I was pretty much open,” Ovechkin said. “Sometimes it’s kind of boring when they put one guy close to you and you’re basically out of the game, but Wardo and everybody do a great job.”
Jason Chimera, John Carlson and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Capitals, who got a touchdown’s worth of goals in their fifth consecutive Super Bowl Sunday home matinee. Michal Neuvirth made 25 saves.
The Capitals and Red Wings are tied at 59 points in the standings, in the middle of a six-team pack in which two points separate eighth place from 13th place in the East. Washington had lost seven of nine and three in a row at home.
“It’ll go right down to the end,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. “That’s why you’ve got to get as healthy as you can. Every point matters. Hopefully your wave will come, and it’ll come at the right time.”
Ward has 17 goals, matching his career high for a season and making him the unlikely No. 2 scorer on the Capitals.
“I definitely know I’ve got a role on this team, and that’s obviously to try to chip in as much as I can,” Ward said. “But by no means I’m not trying to be no superhero or Batman. I’m just trying to help the team win.”
Gustav Nyquist had his first career hat trick and added an assist, and Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader also scored for the Red Wings, who at least managed to end a long scoring drought away from home. Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots.
Nyquist’s goal at 11:40 of the first period ended the Detroit’s road scoreless run at 194:14. The Red Wings had been shut out for three consecutive away games, a streak equaled in franchise history only by the 1927-28 Detroit Cougars.
It was one of those games where a trip to the concession stand was a risky proposition. The first period included three power-play goals in just 53 seconds of man-advantage time. In the second period, Tatar and Ward scored 19 seconds apart. Nyquist finished his hat trick just 42 seconds into the third period.
“It was an old-fashioned pond hockey game out there,” Howard said. “Every once in a while those games happen. The only thing we’ve got to take out of this is we found a way to get a point, and a lot of guys played well.”
NOTES: Capitals D Mike Green missed his second consecutive game. He has been evaluated for concussion-like symptoms since getting hurt against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. ... Capitals F Brooks Laich sat out with a lower-body injury.