Alex Ovechkin scored with seven seconds left to force overtime, but after a scoreless extra period, the Washington Capitals fell to the Detroit Red Wings in the shootout, 4-3.
Ovechkin’s game-tying goal was his league-leading 39th of the season.
Michael Neuvirth was the other star of the game for the Caps. The goalie was spectacular in spots, recording 42 saves on 45 shots.
For the game, the Wings had 81 total shot attempts, the Caps 54.
The Caps killed two penalties in the first period, getting down in shots 15-3. But late in the frame, Martin Erat drew a tripping call, and on the resulting power play, Nick Backstrom made a wizardly pass to Jason Chimera on the far post for the tap-in and a 1-0 lead.
The Caps carried that narrow margin to the dressing room, despite being outshot 22-5 for the period. The Red Wings had 32 shot attempts, compared to just 12 for the Caps.
At the start of the second period, Dmitry Orlov pinched in at the point while the Caps were in a line change, but a turnover sent Patrick Eaves the other way alone on Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth came out between the circles to challenge the breakaway, and in the resultant scramble, Drew Miller banged home a bouncing puck.
With 1:39 left in the period, Riley Sheahan won a faceoff in the left wing circle back to center point, where Danny DeKeyser blasted a slapshot. Jason Chimera tried ot get over to provide resistance, but did little more than screen Neuvirth, as the goalie raised his arms after the shot went past him as if to say, “Where did that come from?”
The Caps tied it at two midway in the third, with Casey Wellman getting three whacks at the same puck, finally beating Jimmy Howard.
But with 10:15 left, John Erskine tripped over his own feet at the offensive blue line and turned the puck over to Gustav Nyqvist. The rookie forward carried in on a two-on-two, delayed, then snapped it past Neuvirth.
But Alex Ovechkin still had a trick up his sleeve. After a late power play, where the Caps peppered Jimmy Howard but couldn’t beat him, the Caps lifted Neuvirth for the extra skater with about 50 seconds left. With seven ticks left, John Carlson fed Ovechkin at the left point, and Ovi blasted a slap shot that beat Howard stick side to knot the game at three.