Even Boudreau couldn't have anticipated how well his challenge would be answered.
Ovechkin scored twice early in the third period to rally his team before Tomas Fleischmann's goal with 6:47 remaining broke a tie as the Capitals beat the Oilers 4-2 on Saturday night before a packed house at Rexall Place.
"I challenged him and started him right off the bat, in the third, and he came through," Boudreau said. "The reason he is the best player in the planet is that instead of going 'Woe is me; why is the coach yelling at me?' he took up the challenge and said 'I'll show you' -- and got three points and led us to the victory."
The Oilers led 2-0 after two periods in Washington's first trip to Edmonton since Oct. 28, 2006, but Ovechkin came out in the third and single-handedly led the rally.
"We made them feel pretty good about themselves," he said of the Oilers. "Then Bruce came into our dressing room and gave us a bad time. But in the third, I feel like I'm on fire."
Ovechkin put the Caps on the board 32 seconds into the period with his 22nd goal of the season -- a most atypical tally for him. Ovechkin picked up a pass by Nicklas Backstrom off the end boards, came out to the right of Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers and took three whacks at the puck before banging it past the unaided goaltender. No flash, no dash - but a goal nonetheless.
He then tied the game at 6:37 with a more-typical Ovi goal. Ovechkin jumped off the bench, picked up the puck and raced into the right circle before getting off a rocket that Deslauriers stopped. But he jumped on the rebound in the lower right circle and pumped it into the net from a bad angle.
Oilers coach Pat Quinn said that goal started his team down a path that ended with Edmonton's third consecutive loss - all at home.
"Here's a guy who is the most dangerous player in hockey and you let him walk out a restricted area and get a couple of whacks at it," he said of the first goal. "The second one was a great athletic play. Great players can do those sort of things to you sometimes."
Fleischmann put Washington ahead for the first time when the Caps won a faceoff and he was left alone in the high slot to beat Deslauriers for his 14 th goal in 25 games this season. Backstrom added an insurance goal with 3:41 remaining, firing home the rebound of Tyler Sloan's shot on a play started by Ovechkin.
Despite his heroics, Ovechkin still wasn't satisfied with his play.
"I'm not happy how I played even if I scored two goals," he said. "That's now how I want to play or how I want my line to play."
It was Washington's first win in Edmonton since Feb. 7, 1996 - the Caps had lost their last seven visits - and gave them a split of a four-game road trip. The Capitals (22-8-6) hit the 50-point plateau in their 36th game this season, eclipsing their previous franchise record mark of 50 in 37 games in 1984-85.
The first period belonged to Deslauriers, who made 17 saves and single-handedly kept the Caps off the board. His best stop came with just over three minutes left in the period when he used his glove to rob Fleischmann on a rebound of Karl Alzner's shot. He also foiled Mike Knuble's one-timer from 10 feet during a power play..
The Oilers took advantage of a breakdown with Ovechkin's line on the ice early in the second period. Jeff Schultz mishandled the puck and gave it away, setting up a 2-on-0 break. Rookie Michal Neuvirth, who finished with 26 saves, stopped Patrick O'Sullivan's breakaway but was helpless as Shawn Horcoff buried the rebound at 1:05.
Deslauriers made another great stop four minutes later when he robbed Brendan Morrison with his glove from just to the right of his crease.
Andrew Cogliano ended a 17-game goal drought with a fluky tally. His blind flip at the net hit Alzner's skate and went past a defenseless Neuvirth at 16:42. It was his fourth goal of the season.
"Based on our first couple periods we should have had a better result," Quinn said. "We should have expected a better result, and that's what is disappointing."
Material from wire services and team media were used in this report