COLUMBUS, Ohio — Alex Ovechkin got the Washington Capitals going Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Conor Sheary had the last word in the visitors’ 4-3 win at Nationwide Arena.

Ovechkin’s first-period slap shot from his favored spot at the left faceoff circle not only got the Capitals on the board, knotting the contest at a goal apiece, but it also moved the captain past Brett Hull into sole possession of fourth place on the NHL’s all-time goals list with 742.

The game went into the third period tied at 3 and stayed that way until Sheary beat Columbus netminder Joonas Korpisalo with a snipe to the near post with 1:22 remaining.

Washington improved to 8-2-4; Columbus dropped to 7-4-0.

Ovechkin, 36, who scored after collecting a sharp pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov, now sits 24 goals behind Jaromir Jagr (766) as he marches toward all-time leader Wayne Gretzky (894). Hull sent the Capitals’ captain a video message that the team shared with the media after the goal.

“Well, Alex, the Great Eight, you have lived up to your nickname and more,” Hull said. “Congratulations again. Keep climbing that ladder, and I wish you nothing but success. Way to go.”

Ovechkin, who was held without so much as a shot in the Capitals’ win Thursday at the Detroit Red Wings, beat Korpisalo with his first shot of the night.

“Means a lot,” Ovechkin said of the milestone goal. “When you start playing and you came to the NHL, you never felt like you were going to be in that position and with those names, but it is a special moment for me, for my parents, my brother, my wife, kids obviously. It is pretty huge.”

Ovechkin finished with four shots against the Blue Jackets and now has 12 goals in the Capitals’ first 14 games. Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette noted that his captain very nearly lit the lamp multiple times in the win.

“Ovi has been fantastic. He is. He is working, he sets the tone for our team, and he probably could have had another one or two tonight. He was firing. What he’s done is incredible, and he won’t stop. He will keep pushing.”

The scoring in the back-and-forth contest was opened by Columbus’s Sean Kuraly just 2:33 into the first period. The teams went into the intermission tied after Ovechkin’s historic strike, but Garnet Hathaway scored his first two goals of the season before eight minutes expired in the second period for a 3-1 lead. It took Columbus all of 22 seconds to get even, with Kuraly and Gustav Nyquist beating Ilya Samsonov to send the teams to the third period tied at 3.

Sheary accounted for the lone goal of the third period, and it was enough for the Capitals to finish a back-to-back with four points.

“I feel like I’ve been getting chances. . . . It just hasn’t been going our way. And it’s nice to get a big goal like that in a division game and come away with two points in a back-to-back game,” Sheary said.

Washington hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday before embarking on a four-game trip west.

Here’s what to know from the Capitals’ win over the Blue Jackets.

Goalie questions continue

Samsonov got his first start in net since his odd showing against the Florida Panthers last week. In that game, Samsonov relieved Vitek Vanecek after the first 1:45 before eventually getting pulled in favor of Vanecek in the second period.

On Friday, he made 26 saves. He had his hiccups but also turned away multiple high-danger looks, including a couple on a late Columbus power play in the third. Samsonov’s last full game before Friday was Oct. 29, when he had a 16-save shutout against the Arizona Coyotes.

Headed into Friday, there seemed to be a growing pressure on Samsonov to perform after goaltender Zach Fucale pitched a 21-save shutout against the Red Wings in the 26-year-old’s NHL debut. Fucale, who spent eight years in the minors waiting for his first NHL start, was called up Wednesday after there were questions about the availability of Vanecek during the trip.

Fucale backed up Samsonov on Friday night. Laviolette said Friday afternoon that there were no more lingering concerns about Vanecek: “All things are good.”

Secondary scoring

Hathaway’s two-goal night was a positive sign for Washington’s secondary scoring, which has been an area of concern. It was his first two goals of the season and his third career multi-goal game.

“[Hathaway] had a big night and it was overdue. He’s been playing great and often times there is perception to just look at how many goals that he has, but he is so valuable to the team to what he does,” Laviolette said.

Washington had been relying heavily on its stars to produce early this season with so many injuries in their forward corps. Ovechkin has carried the load with his 12 goals, Kuznetsov is second with five.

Lars Eller scored his first goal of the season Thursday. Eller had two assists Friday, helping on both of Hathaway’s goals. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby recorded a primary assist on Hathaway’s first goal for his first career NHL point.

A change on the blue line?

The Capitals’ defense had a few glaring errors after a strong showing against the Red Wings on Thursday night. The Capitals have used the same six defensemen for all 14 games, but Friday they sprung some leaks.

Justin Schultz was beat down low on the Blue Jackets’ first goal of the night and John Carlson got caught on his heels as Kuraly went around him for hsi second goal. Then Nyquist was able to get behind a flat-footed Capitals’ defense in the neutral zone before he beat Samsonov for the goal that tied it at 3.

The Capitals have two extra defensemen on their active roster: Dennis Cholowski and Matt Irwin. Neither have played in a regular season game for the Capitals this season. Cholowski was claimed off waivers in mid-October.