OTTAWA -- Sergei Gonchar scored on the power play with 2:30 left in regulation as the Ottawa Senators battled back from a sluggish start to defeat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Tuesday.

Jim O'Brien and Milan Michalek also scored for the Senators (4-1-1), who got 31 saves from Craig Anderson.

Troy Brouwer and Matt Hendricks scored for the Capitals (1-4-1). Michal Neuvirth stopped 24 shots in taking the loss for Washington, which blew a 2-0 lead.

Gonchar's winner came after Erik Karlsson wove through the Capitals' defense on a man advantage before finding his partner, who fired a one-timer that deflected of Hendricks in front and past Neuvirth with Ottawa's Chris Neil screening on the play.

Then with time winding down and Washington pressing for the tie, Anderson made a great save on Alex Ovechkin before robbing Mike Ribeiro from in tight.

Trailing 2-0 late in the second period and looking for a spark, Senators coach Paul MacLean chose to double-shift the one line that showed any jump.

The gamble paid off as O'Brien, who celebrated his 24th birthday, cut the lead in half with 1:23 remaining in the period on a setup from Erik Conda and AHL call-up Mika Zibanejad.

The Senators then quickly tied the game at 2:20 in the third. Kyle Turris won a faceoff in the offensive zone and pushed the puck ahead to Michalek, who scooped it past a surprised Neuvirth.

Playing without Jason Spezza because of an undisclosed upper body injury, the Senators struggled and the Capitals owned much of the momentum in the first period and jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

A turnover by Guillaume Latendresse midway through the period at the Senators' blue line allowed Wojtek Wolski to jump on the puck and feed Brouwer, who caught Anderson moving the wrong way.

Washington then made it 2-0 as Hendricks tipped Jay Beagle's shot home.

The Senators continued to struggle in the second and seemed incapable of breaking through the Capitals' forecheck as Washington pinned the home side in its own end for nearly two minutes, leading to a chorus of boos from the 19,267 on hand at Scotiabank Place.

Caps coach Adam Oates once again started the game with star winger Ovechkin on the top line next to grinders Jay Beagle, the center, and Joey Crabb, the right wing. That unconventional trio -- Oates says he likes the balance that group brings to the rest of the lineup -- were together for the third game in a row. But on Sunday in Buffalo, that line combination lasted just one period. And on Tuesday night it lasted just one shift before Oates paired Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer with Ovechkin.

Oates also decided to stick with his defensive pairings. John Erskine skated with John Carlson for the third game in a row and even added another point with an assist on a first-period goal by Hendricks. Jeff Schultz was on the third pairing with rookie Tomas Kundratek. Schultz started the season opener in Tampa Bay, but was a healthy scratch the following two games. He has appeared in three straight. Erskine was a healthy scratch the first three games of the season, but he, too, was playing for the third consecutive night. He had scored a goal in Sunday's 3-2 win over Buffalo and has already tied his point total (two) from all of 2011-12. - AP