The Red Wings, who are 5-0-0 when they score three power-play goals, were 3-for-6 with the man advantage. The Capitals, 29th in the NHL on the power play, were 1-for-7.
"Our power play has been good all year long and we've got good players on the net front who did a real good job for us," coach Mike Babcock said of the Red Wings, who are No. 1 in the league's power play/penalty kill rankings at 25 percent.
"We've got guys who can shoot it and we've got guys who can make plays. I thought our penalty kill was pretty good, too."
The Capitals rank 29th among 30 teams in the same statistical category, but coach Glen Hanlon wasn't upset after this setback.
"We played great from start to finish," Hanlon said. "Detroit is a great hockey team. I don't think you come in and expect to dominate the Red Wings. ... These guys are great. The make me smile, even in defeat. I can hardly wait until we start winning these games."
Lidstrom scored the winning goal on a power play that gave Detroit a 4-2 lead with 2:53 left in the third period. Pavel Datsyuk also scored for the Red Wings.
"The power play was working," Lidstrom said. "We were taking the shots when they were there."
Datsyuk gave Detroit its first lead at 3-2 on an unassisted goal at 4:01 of the third period. He deked right and fired a shot left over goalie Olaf Kolzig's right shoulder for his 10th goal of the season.
Zetterberg made it 2-2 with his second goal of the game on a power play at 5:27 of the second period. Kolzig made a nifty save with the Capitals playing two men down, but Zetterberg stuffed home a rebound for his 13th goal of the season.
"I think it's good to see we play good in a tight game," Zetterberg said. "I think it's one of the biggest reasons we won tonight."
The Capitals took a 2-1 lead on Pettinger's short-handed goal at 2:54 of the second period.
"That was all Clarkie there," Pettinger said of the assist from Chris Clark. "I just drove to the net. Clarkie made a very good read."
Zetterberg tied it at 1 with a power-play goal with 1:54 remaining in the first period.
Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 5:23 of the first period with his 18th goal of the season. Bryan Muir rebounded Heward's shot from the point and pushed the puck to Ovechkin, who scored on a wrist shot from just inside the right circle.
The Capitals, who outshot the Red Wings 11-7 in the first period, took three shots but did not score with a two-man advantage midway through the third period.
"We had a chance to score 5-on-3," Ovechkin said. "I shoot it and I miss it. We need better shots. If you shoot, you must score goals."
The Capitals failed to manage a shot during two straight power plays in the second.
- This was the only meeting between the teams scheduled for this season.
- Entering Friday's play, Ovechkin led NHL rookies in goals (17), points (30), power-play goals (7) and shots (135). He also leads the league with four shootout goals.
- Twenty-five years ago on Dec. 9, 1978, the Capitals posted their first victory on Canadian ice, a 7-5 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The franchise previously was 0-29-2 on the road against Canadian clubs.