Alexander Semin scored twice in the final three minutes, getting the game winner with 10.9 seconds left, and Ovechkin assisted on all of Washington's goals Thursday night in a 3-2 comeback victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Capitals trailed 2-1 before Semin scored from close range with 2:43 to go. Then, with time running out, he ended a rush toward the net by beating Carolina goalie Cam Ward with a wrist shot from inside the right circle.
Semin has 10 goals in 12 games, enabling the Capitals to withstand an unusual dry spell for Ovechkin.
The reigning NHL scoring champion and MVP, Ovechkin was held without a goal for a career-high eighth consecutive game. But his three assists were enough to help Washington pull out a victory over the Southeast Division leaders.
On the game-winner, Ovechkin's reputation was as important as his pass to Semin.
"I think everybody knows I'm going to shoot. But I just made one step in the middle, the goalie stops, and the guy with Semin came to me," Ovechkin said. "So I just made (an) easy pass."
Sergei Fedorov had the other goal for Washington, 10-0-1 in its last 11 regular-season home games dating to last season.
"We thought we had the game, and that was the problem," Ruutu said. "We've got to play 60 minutes to win. A team like this is going to come after us. We have to learn from this."
Starting a second straight game for the Capitals in place of inconsistent goalie Jose Theodore, Brent Johnson had 32 saves. His fine effort looked to be in vain until Semin made his charge at the end.
"We've got guys that work until the end," Johnson said. "I couldn't be happier now. It's just a fantastic win."
The loss prevented Carolina's Peter Laviolette from becoming the winningest American-born coach in NHL history. He remains tied with John Tortorella (239 wins).
"It's a tough way to lose a hockey game," Laviolette said.
Carolina went up 1-0 at 2:59 of the first period when Walker deflected a shot by Josef Melichar past Johnson. It was the fourth time this season the Capitals allowed a goal on their opponent's first shot.
Fedorov tied it early in the second period, taking a lead pass from Ovechkin on the fly and lifting the puck over Ward's right shoulder.
The Hurricanes regained the lead at 12:13 when Ruutu skated in from the blue line and fired the puck between Johnson's legs.
- Ruutu has a five-game scoring streak (four goals, three assists).
- Playing in his 300th NHL game, Washington's Shaone Morrisonn left after the first period with a groin injury.
- Carolina fell to 5-2-2 on the road.
- The three goals were Washington's fewest this season in a win.