The Winnipeg Jets were less than 2 1/2 minutes from being shut out in Washington before power-play goals by Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien 12 seconds apart got them even. Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little then scored in the shootout to give the Jets a 3-2 victory Thursday night before a stunned sellout crowd of 18,506 at the Verizon Center.
The shootout loss, combined with Florida's 3-1 victory against Los Angeles, dropped the Caps out of first place in the Southeast Division. The Panthers and Capitals both have 61 points, but the Caps have played one more game. Washington fell from third in the Eastern Conference standings to ninth, three points ahead of the 10th-place Jets.
"We're not OK with just one point," center Troy Brouwer said. "We feel two should have been ours and they should have been going [away] with none. But that's hockey, I guess. That's how things happen. We've just got to try and make sure that we're getting points and when we have leads, we've got to protect those leads."
"I think it's good that you're down 2-0 and you come back," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I don't know that our team would be completely satisfied with the way we played for the 60 minutes, which is the way you need to play."
The teams were scoreless through almost 50 minutes before Ovechkin beat Pavelec at 9:46 of the third period. Ovi was unchecked next to the crease when he took a bank shot off the boards from Alexander Semin and scored a power-play goal -- his 23rd goal of the season and third in two games.
The Caps appeared to be in command when Semin set up in the same spot, took a no-look pass from Ovechkin and connected at 12:30 for a 2-0 lead.
"You learn from that hopefully, because we let up as soon as we scored those two goals," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We were soft in our end and took a couple penalties because of it.
After more than 57 minutes of offensive frustration, the Jets finally found the back of the net during a two-man advantage play when Evander Kane knocked in a loose puck with 2:15 remaining in regulation and the Jets skating 6-on-3 after pulling Pavelec for an extra skater.
Just 12 seconds later, Byfuglien tied it on a shot from center ice that was deflected by Alzner and hopped past Vokoun. It was Byfuglien's first goal since Dec. 9.
Alzner blamed himself for Byfuglien's goal.
"The puck came off my stick and went in the net," he said. "Pretty simple, pretty stupid and pretty unfortunate."
It was a rare burst of offense for the Jets, who had scored just eight goals in their previous seven games and had generated little pressure against Vokoun for nearly 58 minutes.
The Caps won 1-0 in the teams' last meeting in Winnipeg on Dec. 15, with Ovechkin scoring the game's only goal with just 74 seconds left in regulation.
Pavelec kept this game scoreless midway through the second when he slid to the left to nab Ovechkin's shot between his left arm and leg pad at the end of a 2-on-1 break. Ovechkin also hit the crossbar later in the period, during the game's first power play.
"The way we played in the first, we were lucky to get out of it 0-0," Noel said. "Their chances came off our lack of composure and turnovers.
"Having said that, we battled back and I think our players felt good about it, especially after we got the first one."
It was a frustrating night for the Capitals, who appeared to have the game in hand until the two late goals.
"I thought that we played a pretty good game," forward Matt Hendricks said. "X-ing and O-ing, strategically sound. Tomas was outstanding again, like usual, like he's been for quite a while now. We got ourselves in a little bit of trouble there at the end.
"They pull their goalie, go up 6-on-3 on us and they're able to find a way to get one by him. The second goal, I'd like to hear the best explanation you can find on that one. It was another power-play goal, but it looked like everyone was positionally sound. It just took a bad deflection. That guys shoots the puck extremely hard; it's hard to react to that."
Material from team media was used in this report
1 - 0 WSH
2 - 0 WSH