Hatcher became the seventh defenseman in NHL history to score 30 goals in one season with a wrist shot in the first period of the Capitals' 5-1 victory over the Quebec Nordiques before 12,861 at the Capital Centre.
It was only the ninth defeat on the road for the Nordiques, who have the league's best road record, 20-9-8. Quebec had won six of its last eight away games.
With the win, Washington remained three points in front of third-place New Jersey, which defeated Tampa Bay, 9-3, last night.
Hatcher joined the list of NHL defensemen with 30 goals in one season headed by Bobby Orr, who did it five times. The others: Paul Coffey (four times), Denis Potvin (three), Doug Wilson, Ray Bourque and Phil Housley, once apiece.
"I wanted it, you bet, once I got close and it became realistic," Hatcher said. "If you had told me at the beginning of the season I'd get 30, I'd have said you were crazy.
"Once I got to 29, I wasn't too worried about making it. I had 13 games to get one more and said to myself, 'Hey, relax.' It wasn't like I had only one or two games left."
The Capitals have the highest scoring defensive unit in NHL history with 85 goals. After Hatcher come Al Iafrate (23), Sylvain Cote (19), Calle Johansson (six), Paul Cavallini (five) and Shawn Anderson (two). They have combined to break the record of 78 set by the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers.
Hatcher, 26, reached the 30-goal mark in his eighth full season with the Capitals. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Detroit had a previous high of 24 goals in 1990-91. He scored 17 last season.
"Kevin is having a terrific year," coach Terry Murray said. "This was one of his better games in a long time, and he topped it off with his 30th."
The Capitals, winning their third straight at home and fifth in the past eight games overall, added to their 4-1 lead after two periods on Dimitri Kristich's goal 12:10 into the third.
Murray said goalie Don Beaupre, who had 25 saves, had "maybe" his best game of the season.
"He was under control, relaxed, strong and confident," Murray said.
Quebec never led. The Capitals took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Peter Bondra and Hatcher. Bondra's goal, on a power play, was his 31st, breaking the tie for the team lead with Khristich.
Hatcher's historic 30th came with 1:10 remaining in the first period. Bondra passed back to Hatcher, who weaved through the middle of the Quebec defense and flicked the puck between goalie Ron Hextall's legs.
Hextall, 28, was making his first start since Feb. 20 when he strained a muscle in his left thigh.
Early in the second period, Mats Sundin scored Quebec's first goal, but Bondra responded with his second goal of the game 16 seconds later for a 3-1 Washington lead.
Pat Elynuik increased the Capitals' advantage to 4-1 after Hextall had turned back a point-blank shot.
NOTES: Rick Tabaracci, acquired Monday for Jim Hrivnak from the Winnipeg Jets in a trade of 24-year-old backup goalies, was in a Washington uniform for the first time. He's in jersey number 31, last worn by a Capital in 1990 by Bob Mason, also a goalie. . . . The Capitals' No. 1 choice in 1991, Pat Peake, 19, concluded the Ontario Hockey League season with the Detroit Junior Red Wings with 59 goals and 77 assists in 46 games.