Dandenault opened the scoring at 9:47, completing a crisp passing sequence. Igor Larionov passed the puck from the right side of the net to Sergei Fedorov between the faceoff circles. Fedorov faked a shot before sliding a pass to Dandenault, who fired the puck from below the left faceoff circle past Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
Datsyuk notched the eventual game-winner 15 seconds later when he stole the puck from Jaromir Jagr in Washington’s own zone, skated in and lifted the puck under the crossbar for his seventh goal.
“(The quick goals) had a real impact; it set them on their heels a little bit,” Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. “It was a situation where we had some penalties also that we killed and I think the combination of our two goals and them not scoring on the power play - a little frustration set in.”
Tomas Holmstrom matched his career high with his 16th goal of the season, scoring at 8:13 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.
The Red Wings, who have scored 29 goals in their last six games, held the Capitals scoreless in six power-play chances.
“As you saw tonight there was a lot of contributing players offensively, but also the players that you count on to contribute offensively maybe didn’t do it as much but they contributed defensively,” Lewis said. “So it’s a combination of both and things have been going pretty well for us.
“I have to give credit to our penalty killers too,” Lewis said. “I think going into the third period they had six power plays as well as a 5-on-3 and you have to give them a lot of credit for taking the shooting lanes away.”
“I don’t know if we ever recovered (from being down 2-0 in the first period) but you have to,” Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You have to show some resiliency as hockey players. There are 50 minutes left, go out and get through the period and come out and get within one at some point. But we don’t show a lot of resiliency in these games where we get behind against good hockey clubs and some times against average clubs.”
With St. Louis losing to Pittsburgh in overtime Saturday, the defending Stanley Cup champions moved into a tie with the Blues for first place in the Central Division with 76 points.
“We finally got out of our slump and started playing well defensively and I think that’s what put us back on track,” Fedorov said.
Kolzig turned aside 28 shots but the Capitals dropped their third straight game. Their lead in the Southeast remained just one point over idle Tampa Bay.
“Tonight could have been a turning point for us by going out and beating a good club,” Cassidy said. “We’ve lost three in a row. This time of year, you can’t be getting on those types of losing streaks. Now Tampa could overtake us. We recognize that. I think we have to be more concerned about the Capitals than Tampa or anyone else right now.”
The coach laid into his players.
“Our best players were not there tonight,” Cassidy said. “And those are the same guys that talked about us trying to beat some upper-end teams. And at some point I don’t care what team you’re on, you go as far as your best players take you.”
After Gonchar scored, Robitaille put Detroit back up by three goals with 7:05 left. Draper closed out the scoring nearly five minutes later.