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Capitals score late, add to Red Wings' woes at home

by Brian Hedger

DETROIT -- Just when it looked like the Detroit Red Wings might end an ugly winless stretch at Joe Louis Arena, the Washington Capitals spoiled the attempt.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 15th goal and Michael Latta scored his first to erase a two-goal deficit in the third period before Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone goal of a shootout to give the Capitals a 4-3 victory Friday.

"A lot of good things had to happen, but from the start of the game I thought the guys were really engaged in the game," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "They got [two goals] late in the first, but we had a good period. The second half of the game we only gave up one chance [against us] 5-on-5, so we did a lot of good things in the game."

Following a switch in lines early in the third, Ovechkin brought Washington within 3-2 at 3:19 by chipping a short feed from Marcus Johansson over goalie Jimmy Howard's shoulder and under the crossbar. Latta scored his first NHL goal off a rebound at 11:54 to tie it.

Each team got a power play in overtime, but neither could end it there. Backstrom finally did in the third round of the shootout, beating Howard through the pads after Washington goalie Braden Holtby made saves against Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi.

It was the second time this week the Capitals came back in the third period to win; they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in OT Tuesday at Verizon Center.

"It's big," said Holtby, who made 34 saves, including all eight in the third and four in OT. "You need to do that in order to gain confidence as a team and gain consistency. If you do it a couple times, where you come back, then in the future you believe in yourselves a little bit more. It's a credit to our guys for being confident in each other and [continuing to push]."

The Red Wings (9-5-6) haven't won at home since Oct. 15, when they defeated Columbus. Detroit's record is 0-1-6 in the seven games it has played here since then.

Despite scoring a pair of power-play goals against the NHL's top penalty-killing team, the sting of losing again in front of the home fans was the overriding emotion afterward.

"Obviously we're letting in goals that we shouldn't let in and we're not scoring on the chances that we're creating," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It's hard. Again, we think we're doing a lot of good things, but I feel like I'm standing here and repeating myself. I don't know, there's nothing else we can do. We have to keep trying to play for 60 minutes and we should win this game."

Among the good signs for Detroit was the emergence of some scoring outside of Zetterberg and Datsyuk on the top line. It came mostly from Franzen, who scored two goals and assisted on rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser's power-play goal late in the second period, which made it 3-1.

"We got two out of [Franzen] ... that's good secondary scoring," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Normally when we've gotten any secondary scoring we've been able to win the game. I thought that was a positive thing for us. I thought our power play was good too. But we need to find a way to get one more to win the game. That's the bottom line."

Each side was missing a key player because of injury. Detroit played without forward Daniel Alfredsson, who was a late scratch after warm-ups because of a groin issue. Washington played without top defenseman Mike Green because of a lower-body injury.

Washington took a 1-0 lead 5:50 into the game on a goal by Brooks Laich, who shoveled a rebound of his shot past Howard for his first goal since Oct. 19 and third of season.

The Capitals kept that lead for the next 10 minutes, which made it start to feel like another lackluster night at home for the Red Wings. Holtby really made it feel that way after a dazzling skate save with 5:53 left in the first denied Tomas Tatar's wraparound attempt that would've been a sure goal.

As it turned out, a cross-checking minor called on Capitals forward Tom Wilson during that play changed things quickly.

Franzen scored his first goal of the game with 4:08 left in the period to cap the man-advantage and tie it 1-1, his third goal of the season (all power-play). After getting the puck in the left circle, he walked it closer to the net and wired a wrist shot through a screen by Tatar that went over Holtby's shoulder and under the crossbar.

A little more than two minutes later, at 18:10 of the first, Franzen scored his first even-strength goal of the season to make it 2-1. A beautiful tape-to-tape pass from Tatar found its way through traffic in front of the net, and Franzen redirected it into an opening on the back side.

"I thought they were real good," Babcock said of Franzen and Tatar. "They got jumping on the power play. I thought [Jakub Kindl] and DeKeyser were real good on the back on the power play. Those guys shot the puck."

Holtby made some key saves to thwart an early Detroit power play in the third. Ovechkin and Latta tied the game 3-3 midway through the period.

"It's a huge win," Ovechkin said. "Everybody knows what they have over there, how good they are. When they get a 3-1 lead, it just makes us [work] harder. It's a good sign for us. We [played] against a pretty good team, huge-skill team, and it's a pretty good test for us. We set the tone right away in the third with a couple of good chances and we just kept going."

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