1. Down three goals headed to the final period, the Wild did its best to make things interesting.
"We finally got mad at each other. The first two periods, we were so passive. I mean, we didn't show any emotion. The third period at least we came out with a little emotion," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "Once we got to 3-2, then they turned it up a little bit and we couldn't match their pace in the last 10 minutes."
Just 37 seconds into the period, Matt Dumba slid a backhander past Caps goaltender Braden Holtby to get Minnesota (43-19-6) on the board. It was Dumba's first goal since Jan. 14, a span of 21 games (although Dumba dealt with both injury and illness during that stretch).
Video: MIN@WSH: Dumba flips home backhand off no-look feed
It came off a fantastic backhand setup from behind the goal by Mikael Granlund, who fed the puck to Dumba all alone on the top of the crease.
A parade to the penalty box by Washington (45-17-7) allowed Minnesota to build on the momentum with the Wild getting 49 seconds of 5-on-3 after a Nicklas Backstrom penalty.
Video: MIN@WSH: Staal trims the deficit with power-play goal
Moments after Holtby stoned Mikko Koivu from point-blank range, Eric Staal got the Wild back within a goal when he popped in a loose puck near the right post.
It was Staal's sixth goal in his past six games, and the tally tied Granlund for the team lead with 23.
Minnesota continued to push until Jay Beagle took advantage of a bad line change by the Wild, finishing off the rush to re-establish the two-goal lead with 5:41 to play.
"You're fighting back, continuing to play. We didn't just throw our sticks on the ice in the third. We played and continued to fight and battle and got it within one," Staal said. "Then we make another mistake on a change and we're down by two again. It seems like those mistakes are just hitting the back of the net for us. We have to find a way to get a lead and build a lead and play that way, because if we do that, we're a lot more effective."
2. A good first period for the Wild ended on a sour note when former University of Minnesota star Nate Schmidt scored in the final seconds.
On the road, in one of the toughest buildings to play in across the League, Minnesota looked like it was going to escape the opening 20 minutes scoreless. Shots were 14-14, but the Wild had plenty of quality scoring chances along the way, only to be stifled by Braden Holtby.
But with 11.7 seconds remaining, Schmidt gained control of the puck in the high slot and wristed a puck toward goaltender Devan Dubnyk, cue-balling the puck off Staal in front for his second goal of the season.
Video: Locker Room Postgame at Washington
"I think it's a perfect time, when we play a real good road period in a very difficult building to play, in the last two minutes of a period, to be happy with ... in the last 30 seconds, to be very happy with a 0-0 game going into the second period," Dubnyk said. "Those are tough plays to give up when you're struggling a little bit as a group ... we're a mature group, we've done it all year. I know we'll find a way to eliminate stuff like that from our game."
"I thought we had a pretty good start. We wanted to get a lead and build on it. They got a break there on that one off a couple skates and into the net and then we're chasing the game again," Staal said. "We need better. We need better from each other to find our way to dig out of this."
Goals in the closing moments of periods tend to have a negative carry-over, and in this case, it certainly did.
3. The hangover from Schmidt's goal was palpable in the second.
Minnesota committed four second-period infractions and was dinged twice, when Alex Ovechkin scored as one man advantage expired and Evgeny Kuznetsov lit the lamp just 22 seconds into another.
"They've obviously been together for a long time and they have a lot of skill that can make plays. You give them extra opportunities, most of the time they're going to cash and they did," Staal said. "I thought we fought hard at it to get some good kills. They found a way, obviously a couple times, to get a few. We have to keep that power play off the ice because they can be effective."
The goal by Ovechkin, a rocket from the left faceoff dot that Dubnyk was unable to get all of, snapped a career-long, 10-game goal-scoring drought and came exactly one second after Granlund's high sticking penalty expired. It was Ovechkin's first even-strength tally in 18 games.
Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame at Washington
• Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom finished with three assists.
• Capitals defenseman John Carlson had two assists.
• Ryan Suter's assist on Staal's goal was his 200th point in a Wild uniform.
• Dumba's goal gave him a new career high in points with 27. He has three points in his last four contests.
• Dubnyk finished the night with 36 saves
• Holtby had 30 stops for the Capitals.
• The clubs combined for 12 minor penalties, two fighting majors and one 10-minute misconduct, which went to Washington's Tom Wilson.
He said it
"That's classic Ovechkin. He's in that spot and he's firing." -- Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on Ovechkin's second-period goal from the left faceoff circle
They said it
"This was a tough turnaround for us. This is really four [games] in six [nights], with travel both ways. It almost was a little bit of a road game for us. I thought the guys responded really well, they had good focus. Our intensity and commitment in a lot of areas was really high." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz
Dan's three stars
* Nicklas Backstrom
** Eric Staal
*** John Carlson