DETROIT >> Patrick Eaves is knew where he wanted to shoot the puck and he placed it right there.
Eaves scored the only goal in the shootout, which went seven rounds, to lead the Detroit Red Wings over the Washington Capitals, 4-3, Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“I know I can shoot it,” Eaves said. “You just have to go in with confidence and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m facing a lot of good goalies and sometimes it goes in. You just have to put it right where you want it.”
Eaves has now scored twice in his last three shootout attempts.
Jimmy Howard turned aside all seven shooters he faced, while Michael Neuvirth was only beaten by Eaves.
“I was watching the guys that went before me,” Eaves said. “I got to see it from a vantage point of going in on him right away. He was so patient with the other guys. He didn’t come out very far, but was so patient. I just wanted to get a good quick shot off on him.”
Drew Miller, Danny DeKeyser and Gustav Nyquist scored in regulation, while Howard finished with 26 saves.
Jason Chimera, Casey Wellman and Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington. Neuvirth stopped 42 shots.
Friday was the 3,000 home game in Wings’ history.
“I don’t know what option he was tonight, eight or nine,” Wings coach Mike Babcock grinned afterwards. “Seven? So we got to him. Good for Patty, gives you confidence. You always like to help the team no matter what role you’re in. He’s played well.”
Eaves was waved earlier in the season.
The win propels Detroit into the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.
“We needed a win and we found a way to get it,” Babcock said. “We would have liked to have gotten the two points in regulation so that would have gotten none. We just missed the lane there in the end and Ovechkin is a dangerous guy as we all know.
“I thought our team played real well from start to finish,” Babcock added. “We had some real good opportunities that we didn’t bury. We’ll have to focus on that at practice, but I thought we played a good game.”
The Wings had a 2-1 lead into the third period, but Wellman tied the game for the Capitals before the midway point. Howard made two straight saves on Wellman before the forward whacked home his second goal of the season.
Nyquist gave the Wings the lead right back with his fifth goal in six games.
John Erskine lost his balance at the Wings’ blue line and Nyquist was off to the races with Justin Abdelkader. Using his linemate as a screen, Nyquist slipped a wrist shot past Neuvirth.
But with the Neuvirth pulled and seven seconds left, Ovechkin blasted a shot past a screened Howard to tie the game.
“We did a lot of great things,” Eaves said. “Howie was a rock star. We needed to get those two points for him and ourselves. Any points here are huge for us. We have to make a push towards the Olympic break and hopefully start hot out of it.”
Miller tied the game early in the second period, potting his 50th career goal.
The play started when Neuvirth was able to get to a loose puck on a near breakaway by Miller. Unable to fully scramble back in position, Luke Glendening put a back hand on goal that was blocked partially by the Caps goalie, but Miller was able to chop in the bouncing puck in the open net.
DeKeyser then gave the Wings the lead before the end of the second period.
Riley Sheahan won the draw and moved the puck back to the blue line where DeKeyser ripped a slap shot that Neuvirth never saw.
Chimera opened the scoring with less than five minutes to play in the first period on the power play.
The Caps were very patient with the man advantage as Nicklas Backstrom lagged the puck along the half wall before he zipped a pass through the legs of Nicklas Kronwall and right onto the stick of Chimera for the easy tap in.
Detroit’s 22 shots in the period was a season high, breaking the old mark of 18 set in the third period of a 4-3 win on Nov. 18 against Carolina.
“You look at the standings and every point is going to matter and it’s going to be a battle all the way to the end here so it’s great to get that extra point at home and hopefully we can get a few more wins here before the Olympic break,” Nyquist said. “It was a tough (goal) to give up that late, seven seconds left, and then we really battled all game I thought but we’ve had a tough time in the shootout scoring, just one goal today it was great to see Patty’s shot go in and then Howie came up huge for us and didn’t let up a goal so it was great to get that shootout win.”