"We played a heck of a game tonight and we took two dumb penalties and it cost us," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said.
With Mike Green in the penalty box for hooking, Holmstrom fired a shot from the right circle past Theodore after taking a pass from Pavel Datsyuk.
"I was coming in on the right side, Pavel got the puck on the left side and I pretty much knew the pass was going to come," Holmstrom said. "I just tried to get in good position and I put it high up."
Detroit held Washington's big line of two-time defending Hart Trophy winner Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin to an assist by Ovechkin, who also had nine shots and 10 hits. The line has already combined for 29 points in the Capitals' first five games. With Johan Franzen out for four months after tearing his left ACL on Thursday night against Chicago, Red Wings' coach Mike Babcock put together a line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi and matched it against Ovechkin's line. That made it necessary for the Washington trio to also expend energy playing defense.
"The more they play defense, the more they're going to be tired out for the offensive zone," Bertuzzi said. "That's what we tried to do, keep the puck in their zone."
Detroit also outshot Washington 11-4 in the third period.
"They're the best team in the league for the last five seasons for a reason," Capitals' defenseman Brian Pothier said. "They know when to play passive and when to play aggressive."
Morrison's power-play goal tied it for the Capitals 1:25 into the third period. He beat Osgood with a snap shot from the high slot. On the previous rush, Detroit's Patrick Eaves knocked Washington's net off its magnets, but play wasn't called.
"I'm not sure what the rule is," Eaves said. "Everyone thought it [play] would be called."
Williams' power-play goal with 3:34 left in the second period gave Detroit a 2-1 lead. He beat Theodore with a slap shot from just above the right circle.
The game was tied at 1 after the first period.
Bradley opened the scoring at 3:58 when his shot from along the boards at the left circle went through Osgood. Leino tied it with 4:11 left in the opening period when he put one in off a goalmouth scramble.
It is the third season in a row that Franzen has injured a knee in October against the Blackhawks. The Red Wings recalled C Justin Abdelkader from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids to replace Franzen on the roster. ... Backstrom is the first NHL player in three years to have 10 points (two goals and eight assists) in his team's first four games. ... Ovechkin and Datsyuk are good friends and the two-time defending Selke Trophy winner as the NHL's best defensive forward shadowed Ovechkin.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Joe Louis Arena Location: Detroit, Michigan
Referees: Kerry Fraser, Dan O'Halloran Linesmen: Don Henderson, Jean Morin
Attendance: 19,122 (95.3% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Matt Bradley (1)
Assists: Tom Poti, Boyd Gordon
Ville Leino (2)
Assists: Daniel Cleary, Valtteri Filppula
Jason Williams (1)
(Power Play) Assists: Niklas Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula
Brendan Morrison (3)
(Power Play) Assist: Alex Ovechkin
Tomas Holmstrom (2)
(Power Play) Assists: Pavel Datsyuk, Brian Rafalski