DETROIT, NOV. 19 -- Jim Hrivnak was astounding. John Druce wasn't artistic, but he was timely.

There had been little astounding or artistic or timely about the Washington Capitals in the last five games, but tonight was different.

With goalie Hrivnak playing the game of his Capitals career, Washington beat the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2, on Druce's second goal of the game, 2:31 into overtime.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak and as defenseman Bob Rouse joked, "We can smile at the wives and we don't have to kick the dog."

Hrivnak had played poorly enough last Wednesday in Toronto to be pulled in the third period of a 5-3 loss. But Mike Liut had been in goal for the last losses, and Coach Terry Murray was looking for something to end the slide. Tonight Hrivnak had a shutout until the Red Wings scored twice in the last seven minutes of the third period to force overtime.

"He stood on his head," said Detroit Coach Bryan Murray, who is now 0-2 against his brother, Terry. "It takes something like that, a goalie playing well, when you're having a tough time. I'm pleased for Terry and the team, but it was a situation where we really had a chance to win."

That's because Rick Zomba and Jimmy Carson scored on two of the 43 shots -- the most allowed by the Capitals this season. The Capitals had several good chances against Tim Cheveldae, but they scored all ugly goals.

"Dale {Hunter} was playing great, passing the puck well and finding me in the open," said Druce, who has 12 goals this season. "I didn't capitalize on the very good chances but they all count."

Hrivnak was making all sorts of stops and handled the puck well, neither of which was true in Toronto.

"But I had a worse warm-up tonight, so I was pretty nervous," said Hrivnak.

Besides a great performance in the net, the Capitals also took a lead for the first time in nine days.

On a power play, Mikhail Tatarinov pushed the puck from one point to Chris Felix (two assists) at the other point. His shot bounced straight out off the backboards, and Peter Bondra tucked it in the net for his sixth goal and a 1-0 lead with 9:35 left in the first period.

Hrivnak had made a couple of good saves before the goal, but as the Red Wings turned up the heat Hrivnak's play rose right with them. By the end of the period, he owned Steve Chiasson, but also thwarted Sergei Fedorov on a great chance. Druce had been stuck at the 10-goal mark for three games, but he got past that with just 4:22 gone in the second period. Hunter nudged the puck back to Felix. Under pressure, he quickly sent a wrist shot toward the net. With a man on him, Druce deflected it past Cheveldae for a 2-0 lead.

Hrivnak, meanwhile, was going from pretty good to startling by the minute. And he was getting plenty of chances to be amazing. The Red Wings had 32 shots on goal by the end of the second period, as many as the Capitals had allowed in any full game this season.

"He made some unbelievable stops," Terry Murray said.

Shawn Burr was denied in tight, Carson's blast was kicked into the stands. Hrivnak stopped a three-shot flurry. Fedorov got in alone, but he had no more luck. During a power play, Carson and Gerard Gallant came up empty.

But the most spectacular save of the night came early in the third period. Steve Yzerman broke into the Capitals' zone and backhanded a pass across the slot to Joey Kocur. He had half the net open, but Hrivnak shifted, slid over while stacking the pads and gloved the shot. Kocur stopped and looked skyward.

Divine or otherwise, the Red Wings finally received help and solved Hrivnak, but only because he never saw the shot. Zomba collected Fedorov's miss and sent a slap shot through traffic and past Hrivnak, who never moved. That cut the Capitals' lead to 2-1 with 6:09 left.

Though the law of averages said it was bound to happen, the Capitals seemed to lose their concentration, and the Red Wings struck again. Carson stepped out of a jumbled Detroit rush and put a wrist shot into the far corner for a 2-2 tie with 4:33 left in regulation.

But Druce, with assists by Hunter and Mike Lalor, came through in overtime, and Hrivnak's and the Capitals' victory was saved.

"We didn't push so hard," Druce said of the difference between this and the last five games. "We played patiently to get a lead. That's what we were doing when we were winning."