WASHINGTON -- With the skill the Detroit Red Wings possess, it's unwise for opposing teams to be careless with the puck.
The Washington Capitals didn't heed that advice, which allowed the Red Wings to take advantage of ill-timed turnovers in a 4-2 victory Wednesday at Verizon Center.
"Every turnover that we did have, it seemed to end up in the back of the net," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Those are the things that are killers, big-time killers."
Justin Abdelkader had two goals and three points for Detroit, which trailed 2-1 entering the third period. Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk also scored, and Jimmy Howard made 25 saves.
"It was a good victory," Howard said. "We showed good character there falling behind in the second period and then coming out and playing extremely well in the third."
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Troy Brouwer scored for Washington, which has lost three of its past four games. Braden Holtby stopped 18 shots.
"I thought we were good up until midway in the second period, maybe even right until the end of the second period," Brouwer said. "We started to take a few chances, a couple needless turnovers. They're real good with picking pucks. I think Datsyuk's the best takeaway man in the League and he picked our pockets a few times. And as a result, they're going on rushes the other way."
Alex Ovechkin had seven shots on goal, matching his total of the past four games, but did not have a point for a fifth straight game. It's the longest drought of his NHL career.
The first period provided Detroit with plenty of penalty-killing practice; it faced 3:58 of shorthanded ice time against Washington's third-ranked power play. The Red Wings' first penalty of the game nullified a goal by Drew Miller at 6:22 when Luke Glendening was whistled for interfering with Holtby, even though the goaltender stumbled on his own as he returned to the crease.
Washington held Detroit to three shots on goal in the first period.
"I didn't think we were very good early," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "They skated way better than us. We weren't good enough. We had no tempo to us."
Nyquist's fifth goal of the season resulted from a Capitals defensive-zone turnover midway through the second period. He found himself 1-on-1 with Holtby in the slot after Marcus Johansson couldn't corral a loose puck. Holtby kept out Nyquist's initial shot with a right-leg save, but the rebound popped into the air, allowing Nyquist to bat it in at 8:56.
Kuznetsov tied the game and dented Detroit's seemingly impenetrable penalty kill at 13:19. Joel Ward's pass from the blue line found Kuznetsov in stride as he cut down the middle of the ice, and the rookie forward beat Howard for his first goal of the season. It was the second power-play goal allowed this season by the Red Wings, who had killed 96.2 percent of penalties coming in, and the first by Howard in seven starts.
Brouwer gave Washington a 2-1 lead with 58 seconds remaining in the second period, receiving a pass from defenseman John Carlson as he rushed into the offensive zone undetected after a line change.
Another sequence of sloppy defensive-zone puck management cost the Capitals in the third period when Abdelkader tied the game 2-2. As Andre Burakovsky attempted to handle the puck in the slot after a Brooks Orpik turnover, Abdelkader poked the puck away from the rookie and fired a wrist shot past Holtby at 4:04.
"We really wanted to get pucks to the net and create some turnovers, get in on their D and pressure their D a little more than we had," Abdelkader said. "We were getting pucks behind them, but their D were doing a good job of getting back to them. I thought we tried to get in hard on the forecheck and create some opportunity that way."
Abdelkader again took advantage of a Capitals turnover at 10:34, this time in the neutral zone created by Henrik Zetterberg when he batted down Carlson's attempted breakout pass. Datsyuk then entered the Washington zone surrounded by four Capitals and dropped a pass to Abdelkader in the left faceoff circle.
"You're hoping to get a save off the neutral zone when it was Zetterberg, great stick, cross-ice pass," Trotz said. "You need that save. We didn't get it. [We were] chasing the game after that."
Datsyuk snapped a shot into the top-right corner of the net with 54 seconds remaining.
"We found a way to get a few goals and get the win, which is really important," Abdelkader said.