Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, right, of Russia, celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings with defenseman Scott Hannan in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Wednesday, March 16, 2011. (AP Photo)
DETROIT - Over three weeks had passed since Henrik Zetterberg's last goal.
He was probably due to catch a break.
Zetterberg scored twice Wednesday night to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. His second goal—the winner with 10:07 remaining—came from a severe angle but somehow slipped past goalie Michal Neuvirth's glove to snap Washington's nine-game winning streak.
The puck appeared to deflect off Neuvirth's mask on the way in.
"It was a little luck to hit the mask and get it in," Zetterberg said. "Every time you're in a slump, you start to think, you start to doubt yourself, so it's definitely good for the confidence to see you can still score goals."
Zetterberg, who hadn't scored since Feb. 22, has 20 goals on the season. Valtteri Filppula added a goal for Detroit (24-44), and Brian Rafalski, who hadn't played since Feb. 24 because of an injured back, had three assists.
Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson scored for Washington (16-50), which missed a chance to move past Philadelphia into first place in the Eastern Conference.
"Pretty good game to watch. It was fun to play," Ovechkin said. "It was tough for us. They have a great team."
With the game tied at 2-2 and Detroit on a power play, Zetterberg flipped a shot from Neuvirth's left. Neuvirth appeared to have his near post covered, but the puck slipped past him.
Washington won six one-goal games as well as a shootout during its winning streak, but the Capitals never led against Detroit. After Zetterberg's second goal gave the Red Wings the lead, Alexander Semin took a pass from Ovechkin and skated in on goalie Jimmy Howard, but Howard was able to poke the puck away.
Detroit withstood one more scare in the final seconds when Semin's seemingly harmless shot from the point hit a post.
"It was like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball," Howard said. "It just sort of dropped there at the end. Did it hit the top part of the crossbar? After it went by me, all I heard was 'thump.'"
Zetterberg opened the scoring in the first period, beating Neuvirth with a slap shot over the goalie's left shoulder. Washington tied it 33 seconds later when Carlson scored from the top of the right circle.
"It was a little easier to get fired up for this game. We don't see them that often—great players coming in," Zetterberg said. "I think we had a good start, showed that we were in the game from the start."
Filppula put the Red Wings back ahead with 5:15 left in the first. Rafalski took a shot from the point, and Filppula was able to deflect it in as Detroit created traffic in front.
"They're good. What are you going to do? When they're rested like they have been and they come out like that, not much you can do," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Our goal in the first period was to hang in."
Ovechkin tied it in the second, taking a pass from Semin and skating in on defenceman Brad Stuart. Ovechkin's wrist shot went through Stuart's legs and over Howard's right shoulder for his 29th goal of the season.
Immediately after that, Mike Knuble came in alone on Howard but wasn't able to put Washington ahead.
Late in the second, Todd Bertuzzi took a shot that slipped past Neuvirth but went wide. The goalie stood motionless next to the post—apparently believing he was freezing the puck for a faceoff—for several seconds while the teams played on. Detroit wasn't able to take advantage.
Washington is without injured stars Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green.
"You know when you're on a roll—no different for us—that roll's going to come to an end at one time," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought they played good and I thought we played good. We were able to get one more than them. I thought we carried the bulk of the play there in the middle of the game, but I thought they pushed good at the end. It was a good game."
NOTES: Washington D Dennis Wideman went down briefly near the end of the second period after he appeared to be hit in the chest with a shot. He got up quickly. ... Detroit recalled G Joey MacDonald from Grand Rapids of the AHL before the game. ... Knuble set up Detroit's winning power play with an offensive-zone tripping penalty. ... Detroit outshot Washington 35-28.