LANDOVER -- Mark Osborne's second goal of the game -- a game-winner hotly contested by Washington players -- with 1 minute to play capped a third-period comeback and gave the Winnipeg Jets a 4-2 victory over the Capitals before 17,923 at the Capital Centre last night.
Brent Ashton's empty-net goal with four seconds remaining put XTC the icing on a rare Jets road victory.
The Capitals, in fifth place in the Patrick Division, are 1-1 in their five-game homestand, where they had hoped to make a move on the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, who are positioned for the final two playoff spots.
"It's a devastating loss to be up, 2-0, and not win the game," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "It's a time when you have to take advantage of your home games."
With Washington seemingly headed for its fifth straight overtime game, Osborne cut toward the center of the Capitals zone and sent a pass to Ed Olczyk at the left side of the crease. Olczyk slid the puck back to Osborne, who shoved in his sixth goal inside the right goal post from point-blank range while receiving a hard check from behind from defenseman Mikhail Tatarinov.
Osborne flied into the net, knocking it from its lodgings. Despite protests from several Capitals that the net came loose before the puck crossed the goal line, referee Kerry Fraser ruled the goal good because Tatarinov's check had caused Osborne to knock the net loose.
"There was a goal-mouth scramble, and the puck was just laying there, and I just shot it," said Osborne, left wing for the Jets, who are now 7-17-5 on the road, fourth worst in the National Hockey League. "Not many teams come back in the third period, especially on the road. It was very satisfying for us."
Murray said he was more upset with his team's letdown than the nature of the deciding goal, which he did not argue. The first [Winnipeg] goal is a missed assignment, an open guy right in front of the net," said Murray. "The second one was a turnover. These are mistakes [that] shouldn't happen. But this is a game of mistakes."
Winnipeg, which had shown little spark in the first two periods, did not need long to erase Washington's two-goal advantage.
With 1:56 elapsed in the closing period, Osborne scored on a pass from Olczyk to narrow the Winnipeg deficit to 2-1.
A singular effort by Thomas Steen tied the contest five minutes later. The center extracted the puck from a crowd on the right boards as Washington failed to clear its area. He skated between the two circles before firing the equalizer past Beaupre at the 6:55 mark.
With eight minutes to play, Beaupre flopped to stop Brent Ashton's close rebound. Steen then took the puck just inside the blue line and beat Beaupre with a 35-foot shot, only to be denied by the right post.
Though the Jets took the first three shots, Washington outshot them, 16-6, in the first period. Calle Johansson's eighth goal and Mike Ridley's 14th put the Caps ahead at the end of the first period.