Red Wings captain on team's 5-4 overtime victory against the Capitals on Sunday. Ted Kulfan
Washington, D.C. – The Red Wings had seen this script before, and it wasn’t pretty.
They lost a three-goal lead Sunday, just as they did 48 hours earlier, but this time the ending was much happier.
Tomas Tatar scored his second goal of the game and 14th this season, off a 2-on-1 rush with Dylan Larkin at 2 minutes, 47 seconds in overtime, giving the Red Wings (22-23-9, 53 points) a much-needed 5-4 victory.
It could have been another horrific Red Wings’ loss, given the disaster in Brooklyn Friday against the Islanders.
“I almost lost my mind. It was tough,” said Tatar of seeing Washington rallying to force overtime. “I was worried it might be the same story (from Friday). You don’t want that to happen. We felt real bad after the game, miserable.
“I’m glad we got the two points. It was big for us. We need every point.”
The Red Wings ended a three-game winless streak, but getting the taste of Friday’s improbable loss was especially gratifying.
“We didn’t get discouraged with them coming back,” Larkin said. “We had a good overtime, which was encouraging. We had find a way to win.”
But it took a little more work than the regulation 60 minutes.
Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom tied it 4-4 with the Capitals enjoying a two-man advantage (Danny DeKeyser penalty, and Washington pulling its goalie) at 19:43 of the third period.
The Red Wings entered the third period leading 4-1 after three quick goals of their own late in the middle 20 minutes.
Still, the third period Sunday had a little different feel to it. The Capitals methodically inched closer, made good plays a good team makes, but the Red Wings rallied on their own in overtime.
Red Wings forward on assist that set up his goal in the second period to make it 3-1 Detroit. Ted Kulfan
“We didn’t sit back or play tentative,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “They scored some nice goals off good plays. We played the way we wanted to in those situations and the puck is in our net.
“We got rewarded with some goals and we played good (for large portions of the game). We were quick in our own end and did some good things.
“We deserved the two points.”
Luke Glendening (8th, 16:53), Anthony Mantha (19th, 17:02) and Tatar (19:49) scored during the second-period explosion, three goals in 2:56.
The Red Wings outshot Washington 17-2 in the second period.
Justin Abdelkader (9th) opened the Red Wings’ scoring in the first period, while goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots for the victory.
Forward scores twice, including game-winner in overtime, in Detroit's 5-4 victory over Washington. Ted Kulfan
“Certainly you don’t like to give up the lead but the story of the game for me was a lot of people probably expected us to fold after a tough game (Friday),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ve had some tough ones. But you get back up and we got back real well.”
Brett Connolly (14th, 2:32) and Dmitry Orlov (8th, 14:02) scored earlier in the third period, shaving into the Red Wings lead. Alex Ovechkin (power play) opened Washington’s scoring.
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby made 24 saves.
So, the Red Wings return home having earned three of a possible four points on this short two-game weekend road trip, and with the knowledge they out-played two potential playoff teams for large portions of those games.
This late in the season, with their own playoff hopes dim and likely gone, it was an encouraging note.
“I walk out of these two games and say there’s tons of encouraging signs,” Blashill said. “This team (Washington) is one of the best teams in the East and the Islanders have been a playoff team most of the year, and for the majority of the games we outplayed them, certainly (Sunday) in the second period we totally outplayed them.
“We have to keep doing what we’re doing, stay with it, and make sure we find ways to continue to win games like we did tonight.”