Detroit Red Wings right wing Todd Bertuzzi (44), defended by Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz (55), tries hitting the puck past goalie Braden Holtby (70) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Monday, March 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT - Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals produced some of their best hockey of the season.
The Detroit Red Wings seem to be at their worst these days.
Ovechkin scored twice and the Washington Capitals held on for a 5-3 win Monday night over the injury-plagued Red Wings, who lost their fifth straight.
The Capitals led 3-0 after the first 20 minutes.
"That was probably the best period we've played all year," Jason Chimera said. "I thought after the first period, 'That's the Washington Capitals. That's what we can play like.'"
Mike Knuble had a goal and an assist and Keith Aucoin and Chimera also scored for Washington. Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson each had two assists and Braden Holtby made 30 saves to send Detroit to its seventh loss in eight games.
"We can't sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We're not going anywhere that way," Red Wings' defenceman Nicklas Kronwall said. "We have to find a way to come together as a group and move forward, still try to think positive, see things positive."
Kyle Quincey, Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary scored for Detroit. Brendan Smith had two assists and Jimmy Howard stopped 17 shots.
Cleary put one in from a goal-mouth scramble with 7:08 left for his 12th goal to bring the Red Wings to within 4-3.
Chimera added an empty-net, power-play goal in the final minute.
Bertuzzi poked in a loose puck from just outside the crease 36 seconds into the third period for his 13th goal to make it 4-2.
The Capitals scored on two of their first three shots.
"Good start for us, it was very important, especially after last night's game, when we had two shots on the net after the first period," Ovechkin said, referring to a 5-2 loss at Chicago. "We just wanted to make a cycle and find the puck and put it on net. Just shoot the puck, have a rebound and you never know what's going to happen."
Washington led 3-0 after the first period as the Capitals scored on two of their first three shots.
Ovechkin opened the scoring 7;48 into the game with the first of his two power-play goals in the period. He beat Howard with a one-timed slap shot from the slot. Knuble scored from the slot with 8;35 left in the opening period after a bad line change left all three Detroit forwards behind the play. It was Knuble's sixth goal.
An apparent goal by the Red Wings' Cory Emmerton with 6:56 left in the first was waved off when Tomas Holmstrom was penalized for goaltender interference. Ovechkin capitalized for his second man-advantage goal of the game by putting in a rebound with 5:09 left in the period for his 32nd goal of the season.
"The power play worked pretty well today, especially in the first period," Ovechkin said. "We have lucky bounce and we use it."
Quincey's power-play goal 5:15 into the second period put Detroit on the board. He beat Holtby with a one-time slap shot from the right point for his seventh goal that also broke the Red Wings' 0-for-31 drought with the man advantage. It was Detroit's longest stretch without a power-play goal since 1996-97, when it began the season 0-for-33.
Aucoin restored Washington's three-goal lead with 2:36 left in the middle period when he scored from the slot for his third goal.
NOTE: The already injury-riddled Wings learned on Monday that centre Darren Helm will be out four-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL. He suffered the injury during Saturday's 3-2 OT loss at San Jose The team was already without captain and defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom (deep bone bruise in his right ankle), defenceman Jonathan Ericsson (broken left wrist), defenceman Jakub Kindl (strained oblique), right wing Johan Franzen (back spasms) and goalie Joey MacDonald (back). . Washington goalie Tomas Vokoun missed his second game with a lingering groin injury.