WASHINGTON - The Capitals were 1 minute, 45 seconds away from their third straight defeat when center Mikhail Grabovski breathed life into his team with a game-tying goal.
Capitals coach Adam Oates rewarded Grabovski by putting him in Alex Ovechkin's spot alongside center Nicklas Backstrom to the start the overtime period.
On the next shift, the move had the unintended consequence of Ovechkin hooking up with center Marcus Johansson for the game-winning goal 1:34 into overtime, giving the Capitals a 4-3 win at home.
Johansson used a burst of speed to avoid a check from Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski and Ovechkin flipped Johansson's rebound past Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Caps their first win in three games.
"JoJo did a great job, fighting through," Ovechkin said of his team-leading 14th goal. "After that I have to go to the net and find a rebound. I get a lucky puck. It bounced right to my stick."
Washington (10-8-1) rebounded from weekend losses to Phoenix and Colorado and improved to 8-2-1 in its past 11 games against the Blue Jackets.
"It's huge," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "Those were pretty deflating losses for us, so the fact we won tonight is good for our morale."
Columbus (6-10-0) lost for the sixth time in seven games, despite taking a lead on Cam Atkinson's breakaway goal with 5:41 remaining in regulation.
"Those are games you've got to close out," said Blue Jackets right wing Jared Boll, who scored his first goal of the season midway through the second period. "We had the lead with a couple of minutes to play and we didn't get the job done. We've got to be better."
The Blue Jackets rallied from a one-goal deficit in the third period to take a 3-2 lead on goals by Boll and Atkinson. However, Grabovski tied the score with 1:45 remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.
"Great shift by that line," Oates said of Grabovski's goal.
Defenseman John Carlson and right winger Joel Ward also scored for the Capitals.
Center Brandon Dubinsky scored a short-handed goal for the Blue Jackets, who were looking for their second straight win against a Metropolitan Division opponent. Columbus beat the New York Islanders 5-2 on Saturday.
"We just need to find a way to lock the door," Dubinsky said.
After a scoreless and uneventful first period Tuesday, the teams traded goals in the second.
With the Capitals on the power play, Dubinsky hunted down Washington right winger Troy Brouwer behind the Washington net, stole the puck, swung around the front of the net and weaved past goaltender Braden Holtby to score on a backhand effort.
The goal, which came 7:50 into the second period, was Dubinsky's fifth of the season and his second while short-handed. It was also the Jackets' third short-handed goal of the season and the third allowed by the Capitals.
The Capitals nearly tied it on their next power play when Brouwer rang a shot off the left post.
Two shifts later, Carlson tied the score with his fourth goal in six games. Caps left wing Martin Erat, who is still looking for his first goal, did most of the work on the goal, driving past Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout and dishing the puck to Carlson just as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky lunged toward him and left Carlson with an open net.
Holtby finished with 24 saves in the win. Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots.
NOTES: Capitals LW Martin Erat has no goals and six assists, his longest stretch to start an NHL season without a goal. ... During his career against the Capitals, Blue Jackets C Brandon Dubinsky has fought Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin, D Mike Green and D Steve Oleksy. ... The Capitals entered the game having gone 11 straight 5-on-3s without scoring a goal. ... Columbus RW Jared Boll is nine penalty minutes shy of 1,000 in his NHL career. ... The Capitals return to action Friday night in Detroit against the Red Wings before returning to Washington for consecutive games against the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. The Blue Jackets continue their two-game road trip Thursday night in Boston against the Bruins. They return home to face the Canadiens on Friday.