The 34-year-old Bryzgalov might not have been playing for his career, but on the heels of a second six-goals-allowed defeat Jan. 29 in San Jose that was his third loss in four starts, he needed to show something.
And in a 32-save performance in which he turned away NHL goals leader Alex Ovechkin on a second-period one-on-one and in the shootout, Bryzgalov delivered the type of outing his team needs moving forward.
Washington (28-15-10) claimed victory when center Nicklas Backstrom shimmied in and fired a shootout goal to Bryzgalov's left for a 2-1 margin in the extra session.
"He's so freaky, I know him very well, he has lots of tricks," Bryzgalov said of Backstrom. "You never know which one he'll pull."
Kesler reluctantly accepted the consolation of a point from the difficult assignment of a back-to-back road game without Ryan Getzlaf.
Getzlaf missed his second consecutive game after suffering a pregame lower-body injury before Thursday's victory in Nashville. He didn't appear for warmups Friday and the Ducks used center William Karlsson, summoned from minor league Norfolk earlier in the day.
"We have to go through things like this, we battled hard tonight," Kesler said.
Kesler scored a power-play goal on Grubauer late in the first period and said the Ducks (34-12-7) aspired to apply more pressure.
"He was a little shaky to start, but he did a good job. That's why he's in the NHL," Kesler said of Grubauer's 23-save night.
Yet, noticeably over a stretch from the middle of the second period until Anaheim's first shot of the third period, Bryzgalov did the heaviest lifting.
There was little he could do about the two regulation goals he surrendered.
In the second period, a fallen Troy Brouwer of Washington extended his stick forward to strip it from Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov had Bryzgalov alone, dishing to forward Jason Chimera for the goal.
Washington's John Carlson made it 2-1 midway through the third, finding net from distance while Brouwer screened Bryzgalov.
The Ducks averted their first regulation loss by one goal because Corey Perry followed his own shot off Grubauer's left leg pad with another that crossed the goal line with 6:15 remaining.
Bryzgalov stopped 15 of 16 shots in the third period and overtime and credited his smart, calm effort to side work with goalie coach Dwayne Roloson.
After the Chimera goal, he denied a Brouwer point-blank try, left the crease to stop Ovechkin and hurried Brouwer on an open shot that looked to have nicked the crossbar.
"For me, after the not very nice game in San Jose, we worked on small details, and today lots of things were good," Bryzgalov said. "I have no doubt in my abilities."
How bad did Bryzgalov need a game like this, with last season's rookie playoff starter John Gibson on call in Norfolk?
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau didn't want to answer that, and doesn't need to after Friday, knowing the Ducks have more than $1 million invested in Bryzgalov this season.
"I would think it gives him confidence, and it gives the players confidence in him, and it gives me confidence," Boudreau said.
"We squeezed a point out of a game that we didn't play as well as we could."