DETROIT – Jimmy Howard failed to stop Alex Ovechkin’s shot in the final seconds of regulation.
But that was the last time he let a puck get past him in a successful return to the ice.
Patrick Eaves scored on Detroit’s seventh attempt in a shootout and Howard denied Washington seven times, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 victory over the Capitals on Friday night.
Howard made 26 saves after missing four games with an injured left knee.
I felt surprisingly good, he said. I didn’t have any issues at all with the knee, which I think is a great sign because I came back last time and still felt it every once in a while.
Ovechkin tied the game with 7 seconds left in the third period, but was one of seven shooters who couldn’t score on Howard.
I had opportunity before to put puck in the net, Ovechkin said.
Howard played really well.
Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist scored a tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, but the Red Wings couldn’t prevent the NHL’s goal-scoring leader from sending the game to overtime.
The Capitals pulled their goaltender late in regulation and the move paid off.
After a short break on the bench, Ovechkin had time and space to wind up for a slap shot from above the circles that sent the puck past Howard and into the net to make it 3-all.
Ovechkin’s a dangerous guy, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Ovechkin has 39 goals this season, his highest total since scoring 50 times during the 2009-10 season
The banged-up Red Wings welcomed back two key players: Howard and Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg had missed two games with a back injury.
HURRICANES 3, BLUES 1: In Raleigh, N.C., Jeff Skinner scored the go-ahead goal in the second period as Carolina won for the fifth time in six games. Alexander Semin added an empty-netter with 1:04 left and Nathan Gerbe scored on an early power play.
RANGERS 4, ISLANDERS 1: In New York, Derick Brassard scored the go-ahead goal with 7:46 left in the third period, and the Rangers used late offense to beat the Islanders for the second straight game.
PREDATORS 3, DEVILS 2, OT: In Nashville, Tenn., Shea Weber scored two goals, including at 1:29 of overtime, as Nashville rallied late to win.
JETS 4, CANUCKS 3: In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Devin Setoguchi scored two goals, including the tiebreaker with 2:56 remaining, to lift Winnipeg, which remains in the Central Division cellar.