Aside from the two tripping minors picked up by defenseman Jakub Kindl, there wasn't much that went on during the first period on Sergei Fedorov Night when the organization recognized the three-time Stanley Cup champion for his recent induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Petr Mrazek made 14 saves, including five on the Capitals' power plays.
Meanwhile, Detroit fired nine shots, including two each by Tomas Tatar, Dylan Larkin and Danny DeKeyser, on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who turned them all aside.
DETROIT 0, WASHINGTON 0
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Kindl (tripping), 8:25; 2. DET, Kindl (tripping), 12:26.
SHOTS: Detroit 9, Washington 14.
The Wings managed to stay out of the penalty box a little more in the second period and were able to put a little more pressure on Washington goaltender Braden Holtby.
Although they had more time in the offensive zone, the Wings could not beat Holtby.
Petr Mrazek remained on his toes on the other end.
After making 15 saves in the first, Mrazek had to make six in the second.
At the 8:05 mark, Mrazek prevented an Andre Burakovsky tip-in and then Matt Niskanen's shot on the ensuing face-off.
Mrazek escaped unscathed when Brooks Laich crashed into him at 15:19, courtesy of a Henrik Zetterberg shove. Laich ended up in the net.
After registering six of his team's 15 shots in the first period, Alex Ovechkin had none in the second.
DETROIT 0, WASHINGTON 0
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (18); Washington 7 (21).
After two scoreless periods, the Wings finally got on the board at 4:06 of the third period.
Andreas Athanasiou, playing in his second NHL game, carried the puck all the way to the left side of the goal line and shot a bad-angle shot that beat Holtby for a 1-0 Detroit lead.
The unassisted goal was the first of Athanasiou's career.
At 8:58, Mrazek stopped Ovechkin for the eighth time.
The rebound popped into the air and Mike Green, the former Capital, managed to knock the puck to the ice and then kick it to his stick before clearing it.
The Wings got their first power play of the game when John Carlson was called for hooking Athanasiou at 9:49.
The Wings got one shot, from Jakub Kindl at the point.
Teemu Pulkkinen had a chance but broke his stick and had to retreat to the bench. Danny DeKeyser took his spot for the end of the man advantage.
Mrazek stopped Ovechkin for the ninth time at 12:27, this time from the right circle.
Ovechkin came into the game second in the league in shots behind Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin.
Ovechkin finished with 15 shots but remains tied with Sergei Fedorov for most goals by a Russian player at 483.
DETROIT 1, WASHINGTON 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Andreas Athanasiou (1), unassisted, 4:06.
PENALTIES: 1. WAS, John Carlson, minor, hooking, 9:49. 2. DET, Danny DeKeyser, minor, delay of game, 14:52.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (27); Washington 17 (38).