Then, during the shootout, the rookie made sure his heroic performance wouldn't go for naught.
Ovechkin forced overtime by scoring with 1:15 left, then got the only goal in a shootout to rally the Capitals past the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Tuesday night.
The Capitals trailed by two goals with 11 minutes left and 3-2 late in regulation until Ovechkin took a lead pass from Jeff Halpern and skated into the Tampa Bay zone against two defensemen. He cut to his left and, despite being pressured by Cory Sarich, pushed a backhander past Sean Burke to tie it.
Besides beating both defenders, Ovechkin had to contend with the sloppy ice as he headed toward the net.
"I was lucky," he said. "The (ice) was no good and I just shot it and I score."
The goal ruined an otherwise fine effort by the 38-year-old Burke, who finished with 37 saves in a rare start.
"(Ovechkin) lost the puck for a split second. I committed a touch too soon and I tried to recover, but he shot it," Burke said. "I maybe wasn't as patient as I'd like to be on that play, but I didn't think he was going to be able to recover and come back and shoot."
Add Burke to the rapidly expanding list of players to come away amazed by the play of the talented Russian.
"There's not a lot of players in the league that will challenge guys 1-on-2 and make a play like that," he said. "He has no fear. He goes at everybody and challenges them."
After Johnson began the shootout by stopping Vincent Lecavalier with a kick save, Ovechkin scored on a rising wrist shot.
"When I sit on the bench, I know what I must do," said Ovechkin, who is an NHL-best 3-for-3 in shootouts.
Vaclav Prospal then had his shot blocked by Johnson's left leg, and Brian Willsie misfired for the Capitals before Johnson clinched the victory -- and his first win of the season -- by poking away the puck from Pavel Kubina on Tampa Bay's final attempt.
It was the second time this season the Capitals and Lightning played to a shootout. Washington won the first one, 3-2.
Ovechkin, who was held scoreless until his late surge, now has 14 goals and 19 points in 18 games.
Fredrik Modin had two goals for the Lightning, Rusian Fedotenko got his fourth of the season and Prospal had an assist to extend his point-scoring streak to 11 games. The Lightning have lost five straight on the road and seven of eight overall.
They're also 0-3 in shootouts.
"I don't like shootouts," coach John Tortorella said, "but it's a very important part of the game right now. We've got some quality people, but we've done absolutely nothing in the shootout."
Tampa Bay scored twice in a 1:36 span to take a 2-0 lead in the second period. After Modin deflected a shot by Kubina past Johnson's left shoulder, Prospal charged the net under pressure and got the puck to Fedotenko, who flipped a backhander into the net.
Burke stopped the first 17 shots he faced until Clymer slammed in the rebound of a try by Halpern with 1:51 left in the period.
Modin's second goal, his ninth of the season, made it 3-1 with 13:31 left in regulation. The goal came on the rebound of a shot by Brad Richards, who earned his 15th assist.
Muir began Washington's comeback with a power-play goal to make it 3-2 with 10:51 to go.
- The Lightning dropped to 1-1 without star winger Martin St. Louis, who's out two to four weeks with a fractured finger.
- Kolzig could return Thursday vs Buffalo. The Capitals also scratched RW Dainus Zubrus (groin).