WASHINGTON -- Trailing in the third period Tuesday, the Washington Capitals needed someone to step up. As usual, it was captain Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin was dominant in the period, drawing two penalties and tying the game with a power-play goal. The Capitals defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at Verizon Center.
"I noticed it from the drop of the puck that he was skating, he was hitting, he was shooting the puck, and when you've got your leader playing that way, you jump on board," Washington forward T.J. Oshie said.
Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the shootout, and the Capitals (19-5-2) moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division.
"We don't mind going there [the shootout], if we have to," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "Everyone talks about the shooters, but we've got a pretty good goaltender. We're not consciously trying to get there, but if we get there, we're feeling pretty confident about it."
Trotz said he thought the Capitals have learned to respond the right way when faced with situations like a tight game; they are 7-0-0 following a loss this season.
It hasn't always been like that.
"When I first got here, I always thought that there was a lot of panic," Trotz said. "In close games, we're OK with that. I think that since guys have grown into that, have seen the opportunity. The last power play, for instance … we score a big goal, and just continue that. It started well before, because we were moving our feet, we were creating some of those opportunities to go on the power play, just doing the right things."
Forward Justin Williams scored a goal for the 600th point of his NHL career, and Braden Holtby made 21 saves in his eighth consecutive start.
"Even though it's early December, it means something," Williams said. "You can reflect on these [games], you can bring from experience come later on in the season and say, 'Hey, we've done this many times' and actually mean it. These are big points. These are big comeback points. You can't always lead all the time. It was a good comeback win."
Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Jurco scored for the Red Wings (15-8-5), who have a point in 11 straight games (7-0-4), their longest streak since 2010; Jimmy Howard made 38 saves.
"We had a shaky start, the first shift there, but I think we worked ourselves into the game," Zetterberg said. "Second half of the first I think we played really well. Second period, they dominated, and the third was back and forth."
Williams scored 43 seconds into the first period for a 1-0 lead on Washington's first shot of the game. Forward Marcus Johansson started the play, taking advantage of a Detroit turnover and getting the puck to Kuznetsov. He went to the net and found Williams on the other side with his pass, where he tapped the puck past Howard. Williams' goal was his eighth of the season.
Zetterberg tied the game 1-1 at 15:40 of the first. Forward Dylan Larkin sent the puck across the crease to Zetterberg, who beat Holtby stick side for his fifth goal. Larkin's assist was his 11th.
Jurco scored his first goal of the season at 3:16 of the second period to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Forward Joakim Andersson tied up Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov behind the goal line and passed the puck to Jurco, left alone in front of the net.
Ovechkin tied the game 2-2 on a power play at 10:51 of the third. He found the puck loose in the crease and put it behind Howard for his 13th of the season.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill challenged Ovechkin's goal, contending that Oshie interfered with Howard.
"We thought it was worth a challenge," Blashill said. "Obviously when you get to goalie interference, there's an interpretation. It's not black and white like on an offside. We felt there was enough contact with Jimmy at a couple different points that it was worth the challenge to challenge it. They ultimately decided it was still a goal."
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk played in his 900th NHL game. Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom played in his 600th NHL game, and Holtby played in his 200th NHL game.
Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed his 12th consecutive game with a lower-body injury.