Leafs’ Auston Matthews becomes 13th player in NHL history to score 65 goals in a season

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is just the second player in the 21st century to score 65 goals in a season, following Alex Ovechkin. But five games remain for the next milestone.


It’s not 70, but it’s getting close.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored his 65th goal of the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday evening. That puts him one goal above Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s 64 last season, giving him the most in a season since Alex Ovechkin notched 65 for the Washington Capitals in 2007-08.

With the Maple Leafs heading to the power play early in the third period, Matthews lined up in the right defense slot. Toronto captain John Tavares won the faceoff against Lars Eller and drew the puck back in Matthews’ direction.

Matthews had to adjust himself to line up with the puck, and he put his weight on his left foot as he wired a slapshot from above the faceoff circles. Penguins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was just out of reach as the puck flew by his left pad and trapper and found the back of the net.

This is now the 25th time an NHL player has scored 65 times in a season but just the second time in the 21st century that it’s happened. Ovechkin was only in his third NHL campaign when he recorded 65 goals, but he finished the season with that number in 82 games. Matthews took 76 games to do so in his eighth NHL season, and he has five more games after Monday to add on to that total.

The next step for Matthews for the rest of the regular season is to shoot for 70 goals. The last time someone scored 70 goals in one season was in 1992-93, when Buffalo Sabres forward Alexander Mogilny and original Winnipeg Jets icon Teemu Selanne each recorded 76.

A 70-goal season has only happened 14 times by just eight other players: Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Mario Lemieux, Mogilny, Phil Esposito, Selanne, Jari Kurri and Bernie Nicholls. Seven of them are Hockey Hall of Famers, and eight of them won the Stanley Cup at least once in their careers.

After beating the Penguins 3-2 in overtime, the Maple Leafs face the New Jersey Devils twice, the Detroit Red Wings, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning to finish the season.

 

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