The Red Wings earned a valuable point Friday against the Washington Capitals, and saved another.

The Red Wings lost a lead late in regulation time, but preserved the 4-3 victory with a shootout win.

Patrick Eaves, in the seventh round, was the lone scorer by either team in the shootout, giving the Red Wings an important extra point in the standings.

The game only reached that juncture because of Washington star Alex Ovechkin.

With seven seconds left in regulation, Ovechkin scored his league-leading 39th goal tying the score at 3.

But in overtime and the shootout Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (26 saves), who returned after missing a week because of a left knee injury, was sensational.

Howard was also superb on a late Washington power play, preserving a 3-2 Red Wings lead at that point.

“Howie wasn’t going to lose that game,” Eaves said. “Obviously we would have liked the two points outright but sometimes things happen. We dealt with it, and we played well in overtime.”

The Red Wings (24-19-11) stopped a modest two-game winless streak. Washington (24-22-9) is in free fall, going 2-6-3 in their last 11 games.

“Any points at this point are huge for us,” Eaves said. “Hopefully we can make a push here until the Olympic break.”

Eaves is now 2-for-3 in the shootout this season, with both goals winners.

“I know I can shoot it,” Eaves said. “You just have to go in with confidence and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m facing a lot of good goalies and sometimes it goes in. But you have to put it where you want it.”

Ovechkin’s goal could have been a crusher. With goalie Michal Neuvirth (42 saves) pulled, Ovechkin fired a shot from the top of the slot that got through a screen and beat Howard.

It was Ovechkin’s league-leading 39th goal.

“Obviously we would have liked to get the two points in regulation and they get none, but we missed the lane there and Ovechkin is a dangerous guy,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Our team played well tonight from start to finish. We had opportunities we just didn’t bury but we played a good game.”

The victory was Babcock’s 400th as Red Wings coach.

The teams meet again Sunday in Washington.

The Red Wings outshot Washington 45-29, but Neuvirth continually frustrated them.

“He was outstanding,” Babcock said. “Which part is him being outstanding and us not making our shots I don’t know, but he played real well for them.”

The Red Wings had Howard and Henrik Zetterberg (23:05 ice time, three shots on net) return and it proved to be a difference.

“Having Z on the bench really helps,” Babcock said. “I don’t care who you are, when your best players aren’t there you’re wondering where the next goal will come from. With Z on the bench, it helps us out.