VANCOUVER — Alex Ovechkin scored twice to pass Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.
Ovechkin opened the scoring from the right side of the net following a giveaway by Quinn Hughes at 5:35 of the first period to tie the record with 402 road goals. He then passed Gretzky with a one-timer from the top left circle to make it 2-0 at 11:52.
“It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.
“It seems like we always have fun on the road, spend time more together and I think everybody enjoys it.”
Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist, and Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves for the Capitals (10-11-3), who ended a six-game road losing streak.
Washington, which has won three of its past four games overall, got goals from three lines.
“That was a good 60 right there,” Mantha said. “We were hard on them, obviously made good O-zone plays and the puck bounced our way.”
Spencer Martin made 23 saves for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had a season-long three-game winning streak end.
“We feel like we’ve come together and we’re getting better and better and building, so to come here and have a game go that way is disappointing,” said Martin, who started for the third time in four games. “And I take a lot of responsibility for this loss because the goalie has a unique way to affect the game and I felt like early in the game, I didn’t do enough to give us a chance.”
Ovechkin set the tone early for the Capitals, who did not lead at any point in their four previous road losses.
“He was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game and you need your best players to do that.”
Ovechkin’s first goal was his 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history. His second put him at 793 for his career, eight behind Gordie Howe for second in NHL history.
“I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been … a new record,” said Dylan Strome, who made the cross-ice pass on the second goal. “I’m sure you will see the video of the reaction we had after the game when we found out so it’s pretty cool. So cool moment. Anytime you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”
Nils Hoglander pulled the Canucks within 2-1 at 13:55 of the first period when he skated out of the corner, across the crease and beat Kuemper to the far post. J.T. Miller had the assist on the goal to extend his point streak to nine games (11 points; four goals, seven assists).
Mantha responded 40 seconds later to make it 3-1. He received a pass from Marcus Johansson and scored blocker after being left alone atop the crease between three defenders.
“We know that’s a desperate team over there as well, so it’s disappointing when you don’t come out and don’t execute and get outcompeted pretty much period by period there,” Miller said. “It’s frustrating because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level. It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just out-battled us and created their own chances.”
John Carlson made it 4-1 at 18:47 of the second period with a chip shot from the bottom left hash marks, and Martin Fehervary scored into an empty net with 4:03 left in the third for the 5-1 final.
Once they got back to the locker room, though, the focus was on Ovechkin.
“This one is unreal, obviously, beating the Great One and he becomes No. 1 in that aspect,” Mantha said. “I don’t even think he knew about it until after the game so good for him, and obviously, there’s more records that are going to get broken.”
NOTES: Ovechkin has 160 multigoal games in the NHL, second to only Gretzky (189). … Capitals forward Lars Eller had an assist on Mantha’s goal, his 200th NHL assist and his 200th point with the Capitals (83 goals, 117 assists). … Carlson has scored five goals in his past nine games. … Canucks forward Elias Pettersson had his point streak end at six games and was minus-5 in 17:04 of ice time.