Washington erased a 2-0 deficit by scoring four goals in the final 12 minutes of the second period to win their fifth straight in San Jose.
Craig Smith scored his first two goals since joining Washington last week in a trade from Boston, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Matt Irwin also scored in the big second period for Washington.
“We just started moving our feet,” Smith said. “We didn’t have as many turnovers and we took care of the puck in a different way and obviously capitalized on our scoring chances as well. It was a lot of fun to play out there.”
T.J. Oshie and Dylan Strome scored in the third period around Ovechkin's two tallies that moved him within 79 goals of tying Wayne Gretzky's all-time record.
“I thought he got going,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don’t know if it amazes me because I’ve been around him. It’s impressive is what it is.”
Darcy Kuemper made 38 saves.
Rasmus Sandin had three assists in his debut for Washington.
“I thought I was awful in the first period,” he said. “I had no idea what I was doing out there sometimes. But I think as a team, we stepped up in the second and third period.”
Tomas Hertl and Alexander Barabanov scored in the first period as the Sharks took a 2-0 lead for the second straight game only to allow four goals in the second period. Nico Sturm also scored.
This marked the first time in franchise history that San Jose lost consecutive games after leading by multiple goals at the end of the first period.
The frustration of a 1-5-1 homestand led to coach David Quinn getting a game misconduct in the third period before Oshie scored a power-play goal.
“I’m embarrassed," Quinn said. “You shouldn’t act like that as a coach and I want to apologize to our team. It’s not how I certainly want to act.”
Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves.
The Capitals came out flat and trailed 2-0 and were getting outshot 27-7 before flipping the script midway through the second period.
The first two goals came off the rush with Smith beating Kahkonen with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 and then Aube-Kubel sliding one between Kahkonen's pads less than three minutes later.
Irwin then ended a 47-game goal drought when his blast from the point beat Kahkonen.
Smith added his second of the game with 58 seconds remaining in the period.
“We just let them in and they scored three quick goals,” Hertl said. "We just let them play. After (that) we fell apart, and the third was tough to watch. That just can’t happen anymore.”
The Sharks dominated the first period, outshooting Washington 20-5 and taking a 2-0 lead with Hertl scoring when he knocked in his own rebound at the end of a power play and Barabanov adding another off a pass from Logan Couture.
But San Jose missed chances to add onto that lead on a four-minute power play that bridged the first intermission and another power play early in the second.
Referee Chris Schlenker got hurt in the second period and didn't return. The game finished with Gord Dwyer as the only referee and the two linesmen.
Both teams called up heralded picks for the 2021 draft to play in the NHL for the first time this season.
San Jose first-round forward William Eklund is back with the Sharks after playing nine games in the NHL last season before returning to Sweden.
Eklund played on the top power-play unit and had an assist on Hertl's goal in the first period.
Washington second-round defenseman Vincent Iorio made his NHL debut, becoming the fourth defenseman from his draft class to play in the NHL.
Iorio got an assist on Ovechkin's second goal.
Capitals: Visit Los Angles on Monday night.
Sharks: Visit Winnipeg on Monday night.
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