DETROIT | In a battle of the league’s top two power plays from a season ago, it was the Washington Capitals’ penchant for taking penalties that cost them again.
The Detroit Red Wings netted a pair of extra-man markers, each time with one of Washington’s young stars in the box, and limited their own penalties in a 3-2 victory Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Trailing after two periods, Brendan Morrison brought the Caps even 1:25 into the third. After Patrick Eaves had crashed into the Washington net at the other end, the Caps went the other way and Alex Ovechkin fed Morrison for a shot from the top of the circles through a screen.
It was Morrison’s third of the season, and it also came with the Washington net dislodged. The officials let the play continue and left goaltender Jose Theodore to put it back on its moorings, much to the chagrin of the home fans.
But Tomas Holmstrom answered for the Red Wings at 13:07 with Mike Green in the box for hooking. Pavel Datsyuk slipped a cross-ice pass to Holmstrom, who snapped a shot into the top-left corner.
The Red Wings registered the lone goal of a sloppy second period. After Alexander Semin took his second penalty of the period, new addition Jason Williams blasted a shot from the right point that clanked off the left post and in.
Theodore was screened on the play because Detroit’s Dan Cleary and defensemen Tom Poti were tangled up his sightline.
Matt Bradley put Washington in front with a slap shot from a sharp angle 3:58 into the opening period. Boyd Gordon won the faceoff to the left of Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, and Poti got the puck to Bradley near the left wall.
It was the first goal by a member of the Caps this season who doesn’t play on the top two lines.
Ville Leino tied the contest at 15:49 of the first. Seconds after the Caps killed off their second consecutive penalty, Theodore stopped Valtteri Filppula’s shot from just above the hash marks and Cleary’s rebound attempt, but Leino was able to scoop the loose puck from the netminder’s legs and into the net.
Williams was Detroit’s biggest free agent acquisition during an offseason in which the Red Wings lost Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson.
Their losses at forward were compounded Thursday when Johan Franzen was lost to a major knee injury. For the club to continue to reside among the league’s elite, guys like Williams and Leino are going to have to support stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.