Ovechkin’s tallies were the 402nd and 403rd on the road in his 18-year career, passing Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky for the most on visiting ice in NHL history.
“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 also marked Ovechkin’s second multigoal game this season and 160th of his career. Only Gretzky, who retired with 189, has more multigoal games in NHL history.
Beating Vancouver goaltender Spencer Martin for the first time in his career, Ovechkin, 37, opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at 5:35 into the period. It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.
He followed that up at the 11:52 mark, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season. That tally was assisted by forwards Dylan Strome and Anthony Mantha.
“On his second goal, it looks like, ‘Oh, maybe [Martin] should have had it.’ But I’ve seen [Ovechkin] score 100 goals like that,” said Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007 to 2011. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”
Washington led 3-1 after the first period.
“[Ovechkin] 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,” Capitals 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 nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post. Instead it was Martin Fehervary who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.
Earlier this month, Ovechkin set the NHL record for most goals scored with one franchise, netting his 787th career tally with the Capitals, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Gordie Howe’s career total with the Detroit Red Wings. The record-breaking goal came on home ice in a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 5.
“I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”
The Capitals have struggled this season in a clogged Eastern Conference, but their woes have not slowed Ovechkin. He is the team’s leading scorer with 23 points, and his 20:57 time-on-ice average was tops among Washington forwards entering Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.