DENVER -- Nicklas Backstrom scored 22 seconds into overtime on the power play to give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday.
Backstrom took a pass from John Carlson after Tom Wilson kept the puck alive along the boards. He beat former teammate Philipp Grubauer with a shot from the top of the slot during a 4-on-3 power play with Colorado's Ian Cole in the penalty box for holding Devante Smith-Pelly at 18:51 of the third period.
"I used to struggle scoring in practice against Grubauer," Backstrom said. "He was probably used to me passing too."
[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Avalanche highlights]
The Avalanche tied the game 2-2 on Colin Wilson's goal with 2:44 remaining in the third when he knocked in the rebound after Cole's shot hit Colorado forward Matt Calvert in the back.
"A sloppy game by us," Wilson said. "They had more effort, a little more attention to detail. We turned it on in the last 10 minutes but it was just too little, too late. Coming out with a point is better than no points at all."
Video: EA Sports Overtime Winner: Backstrom wins it for Caps
Smith-Pelly and Alex Ovechkin scored, and Pheonix Copley made 24 saves for the Capitals (9-7-3), who had lost three of their previous four games.
"That was the most comfortable he has looked," Washington coach Todd Reirden said of Copley, who has been filling in for Braden Holtby (upper-body injury). "His rebound control was better and he was better playing the puck outside the crease."
Copley made 13 saves in the first period, including against a wide-open Gabriel Landeskog in the slot and a glove deflection against Nathan MacKinnon on a breakaway.
"He's been outstanding for us," Tom Wilson said. "Every time he's gone in net he's given us a chance to win, and more. That's all you can ask for from your goalie, and we try and go out there and pick up the rest of it. Love seeing that from a guy in his position."
Carl Soderberg scored for the Avalanche (9-6-4), who are 2-0-1 in their past three games. Grubauer, who was acquired in a trade from the Capitals on June 22, made 26 saves.
"Puck drops, it's all business. It doesn't matter who's on the ice," said Grubauer, who hadn't played since a 7-6 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 2. "It was nice to get a game in two weeks, or whatever, felt like it was the offseason. It was good, next game is coming up soon.
"Warmups, looking down, it was a little weird. It felt like a scrimmage in the preseason a little bit, looking down and seeing some familiar faces."
Video: WSH@COL: Ovechkin roofs a sizzling wrist shot
The Capitals took a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Smith-Pelly was open in the left slot and converted Chandler Stephenson's cross-ice pass from the right circle at 8:55 to tie the game 1-1.
Ovechkin took a drop pass from Backstrom, skated into the right circle, and beat Grubauer short side at 18:29 for his 13th goal and first in five games.
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on Soderberg's goal at 1:08 of the first period. Tyson Jost skated down right wing and passed to Soderberg moving in the slot for a shot that beat Copley blocker side.
Washington played without forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie, each day to day with an upper-body injury.
"I really like our leaders," Reirden said. "Between the goal that Ovechkin and Backstrom scored, and Carlson setting up the goal, they did a strong job. We missed some key guys and key leaders in the room. Those guys were important to us."
Video: WSH@COL: Wilson swats home rebound to tie game late
They said it
"It's going to give us a little confidence. That's always good when you have a lot of guys hurt. I mean, it was nice to see that we really played a good defensive game. Everyone was on the same page, blocking shots and doing all the little things right. Two points is always two points." -- Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom
"I really liked our third. It was a frustrating night because it didn't seem like we were playing with enough desperation. Our pace wasn't what it needs to be. We created some nice chances in the first period. I thought we dried up a bit in the second. We turned too many pucks over. I didn't feel we were driving our legs the way we normally do." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar
Need to know
Backstrom has nine points (three goals, six assists) in the past eight games. … The Capitals were 1-for-3 on the power play after going 0-for-7 the three previous games. … Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, who leads the NHL in scoring with 29 points, didn't have a point or shot on goal. … Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in his past nine games. … Avalanche forward Sven Andrighetto returned after missing six games with a lower-body injury. He had one shot in 10:27.
Capitals: At the Montreal Canadiens on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)
Avalanche: At the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; PRIME, ALT, NHL.TV)
Video: Backstrom lifts Caps past Avs in overtime, 3-2