By JOSEPH WHITE/AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 39th goal on a power play 2:37 into overtime, and the Washington Capitals beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-5 Sunday to earn a split of a home-and-home set and tighten up things in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin’s one-timer from the left circle was no match for goaltender Jimmy Howard, who had only three teammates on the ice with him after Brendan Smith was sent off for tripping 1:26 into the extra period.
Joel Ward had two goals and an assist, and Jason Chimera, John Carlson and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Capitals, who got a touchdown’s worth of goals in their fifth consecutive Super Bowl Sunday home matinee. Michal Neuvirth made 25 saves.
Washington lost in a shootout at Detroit on Friday. The Capitals and Red Wings are tied at 59 points, in the middle of a six-team pack in which two points separate eighth place from 13th place in the East. Washington had lost seven of nine and three in a row at home.
Gustav Nyquist had his first career hat trick and added an assist, and Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader also scored for the Red Wings, who at least managed to score away from home after getting shut out in their past three road games. Jimmy Howard stopped 22 shots for Detroit.
Ward has 17 goals, matching his career high for a season. He’s become the unlikely No. 2 scorer on the Capitals, well behind Ovechkin. The pair are a little closer after a scoring change from Friday’s game, with Ovechkin’s game-tying goal in the waning seconds was credited instead to Ward after a day-after scoring change.
The power play ruled in the first period, with three goals produced in just 53 seconds of man-advantage time. Ward scored 18 seconds after Nyquist went off for slashing, Nyquist needed only 9 seconds to capitalize after Connor Carrick was whistled for a cross-check, and Carlson’s slap shot found the net 32 seconds after Kyle Quincey put the puck over the glass for a delay of game.
Nyquist’s goal at 11:40 ended the Red Wings’ road scoreless drought at 194:14. Detroit had been shut out for three consecutive games on the road, a streak equaled in franchise history only by the 1927-28 Detroit Cougars.
Nyquist got his second of the game – and 12th of the season – on a power play late in the second period, leaving the Capitals with a 4-3 lead going into the third.
Nyquist finished his hat trick just 42 seconds into the final period to tie the game, but Brouwer put the Capitals back in front, then Abdelkader tied it again at 5 with 13:35 remaining in regulation.
Notes: Capitals D Mike Green missed his second consecutive game. He has been evaluated for concussion-like symptoms since leaving the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. … Capitals F Brooks Laich sat out with a lower-body injury.
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