WASHINGTON -- In a wild game that featured end-to-end rushes and three lead changes, Ottawa Senators center Zack Smith provided the game-winner with 2:23 remaining in the third period, giving Ottawa a 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals.
The win was the second in three games for the Senators (10-11-4), who had lost four of their previous five games.
The Capitals (12-11-2) lost for the fourth straight time and slipped to third in the Metropolitan Division standings.
After evenly dividing six goals through two periods, Senators center Mika Zibanejad gave the Senators a 4-3 lead with a power-play goal 6:05 into the final period. A little more than 10 minutes later, the Capitals tied the score on defenseman John Carlson's power-play goal.
The game turned just 64 seconds later when Smith split Capitals defensemen Nate Schmidt and Mike Green and beat goaltender Braden Holtby with a shot that glanced off the netminder's left arm and into the net for Smith's fourth goal of the season and Ottawa's third goal on the power play.
Ottawa right wing Bobby Ryan completed the scoring when he netted an empty-netter for his second goal of the game and 13th of the season.
For two periods, the two teams played some old-fashioned river hockey, evenly dividing six goals to set up the decisive third period.
The Capitals jumped out to an early 3-1 lead on first-period goals by left wing Eric Fehr, left wing Marcus Johansson and center Brooks Laich.
Fehr, playing in his second game after being a healthy scratch for the previous nine games, opened the scoring 12:10 into the game when he one-timed a pass from Michael Latta past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson for his second goal of the season.
Ottawa right wing Bobby Ryan answered 1:18 later with his 12th goal of the season and fifth on the power play, redirecting a point shot by defenseman Patrick Wiercioch past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
Ten seconds after Ryan's goal, Ottawa center Zack Smith put the Capitals on the power play and Johansson gave Washington its second lead with his third goal of the season, swatting a loose puck past Anderson.
Laich made it 3-1 just 57 seconds later with his fourth goal of the season, backhanding a shot past Anderson's catching glove.
It was the first time in four games the Capitals carried a lead into the second period but it didn't last long. The Senators outshot the Capitals 19-3 in the second period en route to evening the score and swaying the game's momentum.
Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips opened the scoring, rifling a shot over Holtby's catching glove and just under the crossbar for his first goal of the season and first since March 25, 2013. The Senators entered the game 51-11-4 when Phillips scores a goal and left wing Colin Greening took a step in that direction when he scored his first goal of the season midway through the second period.
Greening, who dropped the gloves with Capitals left wing Aaron Volpatti earlier in the period, notched the second part of a Gordie Howe hat trick when he rumbled down the right wing, used linemate Chris Neil as a screen and snapped a shot between the legs of Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner and into the net, tying the score at 3-3.
NOTES: The Capitals entered the game 11-0-2 in their last 13 home games against the Senators, dating back to March 12, 2006. ... Senators D Erik Karlsson entered the game leading all NHL defensemen with 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) and was one of three NHL defensemen to lead his team in scoring (James Wisniewski of Columbus and P.K. Subban of Montreal were the others). Karlsson also ranked second in the NHL in ice time (27:47), behind only Minnesota Wild D Ryan Suter (29.33). "They go as he goes," said Capitals LW Jason Chimera. "Everything runs through Karlsson." ... Washington C Brooks Laich was drafted by Ottawa in the sixth round (193rd overall) in the 2001 NHL draft and made his NHL debut with the Senators on Feb. 3, 2004. Laich was traded to the Capitals, along with Ottawa's second-round draft choice in the 2005 draft, in exchange for Peter Bondra on Feb. 18, 2004. ... Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin entered the game with 43 goals in his previous 45 games, dating back to the second half of last season. It marked the first time in his career Ovechkin has been the first NHL player to reach 20 goals. ... The game featured two Olympic hopefuls between the pipes. Capitals goaltender and Canadian Olympic candidate Braden Holtby entered the game 10-7-1 with a 2.59 goal-against-average and .925 save percentage. American Olympic candidate Craig Anderson arrived with a 5-7-2 record with a 3.31 GAA and .900 save percentage. ... The Capitals return to action Friday night at home when they face the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in one week. The Senators return home to face the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It marks their fifth of 16 back-to-back games this season.