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On another record-breaking night for Alex Ovechkin, Capitals roll in Vancouver

Capitals 5, Canucks 1

Alex Ovechkin scored two first-period goals Tuesday in Vancouver to eclipse Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history with 403. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

VANCOUVER – Alex Ovechkin took matters into his own hands Tuesday night on the road, his record-breaking two-goal game against the Vancouver Canucks spearheading a promising 5-1 win for a Washington team aiming to turn around its early season woes.

Amid Washington’s win at Rogers Arena, Washington’s decorated captain made history yet again, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history with 403. Ovechkin, who now has four goals in his past four games, is only nine goals away from passing Gordie Howe (801) for second place on the all-time goals list.

“It is always nice when you beat The Great One," Ovechkin said. "Doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It is history.”

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Ovechkin’s offensive surge came early in the first period, when he put two goals past Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin (23 saves) to give the Capitals a 2-0 advantage at 11:52 of the opening frame. Washington continued its offensive surge and carried a 4-1 lead into the third period. Martin Fehervary accounted for the game’s final goal with his long empty-netter at 15:57 of the final frame. It was his first goal of the season.

Ovechkin nearly had his third goal of the night in an action-packed third, but one shot hit off the crossbar, he missed an empty-net chance late and was then stopped point-blank in front with just over a minute remaining. Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper had a strong performance in the crease and finished with 31 saves.

Tuesday’s game marked the Capitals’ second game of a six-game road trip that takes them through Western Canada before closing the trip in Philadelphia next week. Washington (10-11-3) has now won three of its last four games; its next game is Thursday in Seattle.

The Canucks (9-11-3) entered the matchup on a three-game winning streak and were 5-1-0 in their past six games. They have turned things around since their early-season struggles, yet couldn’t handle the Capitals’ pressure in the offensive zone.

“It’s always nice to create the play on the rush and I think we forechecking well, we making nice plays and you can see, we holding the puck well in the offensive zone as well and when you play like that, chances will always come," Ovechkin said.

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Ovechkin’s first goal of the night came off a Canucks turnover behind the net 5:35 into the game. Ovechkin scooped up the puck and slammed it home past Martin. Ovechkin’s second goal of the period — his record-breaking tally — was a one-timer from the left circle off a pass from Dylan Strome at 11:52. Ovechkin now has 13 goals this season.

“You look at a player like that, he plays hard no matter where he plays,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said of Ovechkin. “I think over the course of time, what you appreciate is the fact that inside of the season not everyone feels good every night, not 100 percent healthy but yet through it all, no matter what, a bump or a bruise or a ding, through it all, he is out there playing at a high level.”

Canucks forward Nils Hoglander cut the Capitals’ lead to 2-1 at 13:55 of the first with a backhanded goal from in tight against Kuemper.

Anthony Mantha capped the first period scoring with a goal in front at 14:35 off a feed from Marcus Johansson to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead. It was Mantha’s first goal in eight games.

John Carlson gave the Capitals a 4-1 lead late in the second period after he received the puck in the slot and battled to get it past Martin. It was Carlson’s second goal in as many games and his fifth in the past seven.

“We’ve felt like we’ve had a great stretch of four or five games of how we’ve been playing but there is no more excuses with where we are out right now ... we need to win whether we deserve to or not and certainly if we deserve it, we got to find a way to do that,” Carlson said.