NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman John Carlson made a triumphant return to the lineup when he scored with 2:43 remaining in overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.
Carlson, born in Massachusetts but who spent much of his childhood in New Jersey growing up a fan of Hockey Hall of Fame member and Devils defenseman Scott Stevens, took a pass from Jason Chimera in the right circle and scored on a slap shot against rookie goaltender Scott Wedgewood for his first goal since Dec. 16.
"I knew they were tired, but I almost didn't shoot it because thought I someone would jump into the passing lane," Carlson said. "When I noticed I had a lane, I just decided to shoot it.
"It's nice to score, especially as a defenseman. You feel better about yourself and your game and get a little more pep in your step."
Video: WSH@NJD: Carlson slaps home overtime winner
The Capitals (53-15-5) need one point gained or lost by the Dallas Stars to clinch their first Presidents' Trophy since 2009-10, when they had 121 points. Washington has 111 points with nine games remaining; Dallas has 97 points with seven games left.
"We didn't give them very much," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought we managed and were patient. The Devils are committed to a 200-foot game and they did a good job. We didn't get too anxious. I like the way we just managed the game. We played the game that was presented to us and really didn't give them too many chances."
Carlson returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury. He played 19:27, took four shots on goal and blocked three shots.
"It's a perfect story since he was returning to the lineup in his home state; a good start led to a good finish," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said.
Video: WSH@NJD: Wedgewood gets a blocker on Johanssen's shot
Wedgewood was trying for a second straight shutout in his third NHL start. With 25 saves Friday, he has stopped 91 of 93 shots since debuting Sunday. Wedgewood's 159:34 shutout streak was the second-longest by a Devils rookie goaltender, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Martin Brodeur went 164:18 in 1993-94.
Wedgewood made 39 saves Thursday in a 3-0 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins to end their six-game winning streak and become the first Devils rookie to get a shutout since Mike Dunham on April 6, 1997.
"I kind of got in a rhythm playing back-to-back games, and the guys did a good job the whole game in front of me," Wedgewood said. "I just tried to stay in control, stick to my game plan, and was confident in what I was doing out there."
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made 22 saves for his third shutout of the season. Holtby needs three wins to tie Brodeur for most in a season (48), a record set with the Devils in 2006-07.
Video: WSH@NJD: Severson and Wedgewood deny Ovechkin's shots
"We've always played tight games against New Jersey; they're always a tough team to play no matter what the roster looks like," Holtby said. "They play a composed, mature game and they frustrate you. It was a good sign that we played well against them."
The Capitals outshot the Devils 26-22.
"I thought it was a pretty easy night for [Holtby] for the most part," Trotz said. "I also thought [Wedgewood] played well too."
Alzner said, "For 60 minutes, it was the best even-strength game we've played."
The Capitals swept a season series (four games) against the Devils for the first time and set a Washington record for most road wins in a season (25). New Jersey (36-31-8) trails the Philadelphia Flyers by five points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have two games in hand.
Video: WSH@NJD: Smith-Pelly shoulders Alzner into the boards
Holtby made one of six saves in the second period off a backhand by Adam Henrique from low in the right circle at 16:21. Holtby made three saves on a Devils power play when Alex Ovechkin was in the box for tripping at 7:26.
Wedgewood made 10 saves in the first period, when he twice lost his goal stick. He called the stick dropping a defense mechanism because of a shoulder injury he sustained in the past.
"Guys were coming through the crease, so dropping the stick was more of a safer play for me, but it's something I'm aware of and will correct," Wedgewood said. "My teammates were joking around saying I should have taped it [to my hand]."
Defenseman Damon Severson had one of seven blocked shots by the Devils when he unknowingly stopped a wrist shot by Ovechkin on what appeared to be a sure goal at 10:20. New Jersey blocked 12 shots; Severson had two.
Video: Carlson's first overtime winner lifts Capitals
Wedgewood, who was recalled from Albany of the American Hockey League on Saturday, made 27 saves in a 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday to become the first Devils goaltender to win in his debut since Brodeur in 1992. The last goal Wedgewood allowed prior to Friday was 2:43 into the second period against the Blue Jackets.
"I think when you see him play, there's poise in the net and he doesn't over-react to shots or situations," Devils coach John Hynes said. "His rebound control is very good. There's not a lot of second or third opportunities, net-front scrums; he controls them well. His lateral movement side-to-side has been pretty impressive."
Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie missed the game with the flu. He could return Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, his former team, at Verizon Center.