Alex Ovechkin had a game-tying goal with 7 seconds left in the third period, but Patrick Eaves scored in the seventh of the shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the Capitals on Friday night.
Detroit's Gustav Nyquist scored a tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, but the Red Wings couldn't prevent the NHL's goal-scoring leader from sending the game to overtime.
The Capitals pulled their goaltender late in regulation.
Ovechkin had time and space to wind up for a slap shot from above the circles that sent the puck past Howard and into the net to make it 3-all. Ovechkin has 39 goals this season, his highest total since scoring 50 times during the 2009-10 season.
The banged-up Red Wings welcomed back two key players: Jimmy Howard and Henrik Zetterberg.
Howard made 26 saves after missing four games with an injured left knee. Zetterberg had missed two games with a back injury.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 42 shots to match a career high. One of his first was perhaps his best, flashing his glove to snag Nyquist's shot off a rebound just in front of the net midway through the first period. He also gave Washington a shot to win in the shootout, stopping the first six shots he faced.
Jason Chimera put the Capitals ahead 1-0 at the 15:24 mark of the first period on a power play and teammate Casey Wellman tied it at 2-all midway through the third, scoring on his third straight shot in a 2-second sequence.
Washington had a chance to tie the game again, going on the power play with 3:29 left in the game. Howard helped the Red Wings stay ahead by smothering a shot from Ovechkin.
The lead didn't last much longer because Ovechkin made it 3-all late in regulation.
Drew Miller tied the game early in the second and Danny DeKeyser gave the Red Wings their first lead late in the period.
The Red Wings seemed to get a boost with the return of Zetterberg, who helped them have a season-high 22 shots in the first period. That total was also the most allowed by Washington in any period this season.
Howard helped, too, and will be on the U.S. team at the Winter Olympics in two weeks if he can stay healthy.
Detroit star forward Pavel Datsyuk missed his 12th straight game with a lower-body injury. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said he hopes Datsyuk can play at least one game in the next week. The captain of Russia's team has vowed he will be healthy enough to go for gold in his home country.
NOTES: Washington defenseman Mike Green was scratched, a night after he was hit hard into the boards on a check by Columbus' Boone Jenner. ... Nyquist scored in four of the previous five games, putting him in contention to replace injured Red Wings teammate Johan Franzen on Sweden's team at the Sochi Games. ... Neuvirth also made 42 saves on Feb. 5, 2010.