Auston Matthews looks to continue career success against Sabres as the Maple Leafs visit Buffalo

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
10 days ago
For the fourth and final time this regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will meet each other for the Battle of the Q.E.W.
The first two meetings didn’t go as planned for Toronto, especially the second meeting when they met in Buffalo, as Toronto was embarrassed off the ice in a 9-3 loss despite the Maple Leafs holding a 2-1 lead midway through the first period. But after dropping the first two games at a combined score of 15-7, Toronto took care of business in their recent matchup at home, picking up the 2-1 overtime win.
Tonight, they’ll look to even up the season series in the finale, and one player, in particular, will look to help lead the way for them as he is chasing history yet again.
Amonth ago, Auston Matthews broke the 50-goal mark and sat with 53 goals in 58 games with two months to go in the regular season. However, March has seen the two-time Rocket Richard winner slow to a more human pace, scoring six goals in 13 games this month.
Auston’s pace has dropped well below 70, and the opportunity to become the ninth player in history to reach that milestone is quickly slipping. But as he enters tonight’s tilt against Buffalo, a team he has had a tremendous amount of success against, Matthews needs just one goal to return to being a 60-goal scorer and 11 goals in the remaining ten games to reach the 70-goal mark.
If you asked a hockey fan or somebody in the league to list players who could score 11 goals in 10 games, it’d be a short list. But one name that will appear more often than not is Auston Matthews. I’m not entirely throwing out the chance for the 26-year-old to reach 70 goals, because given some of the opponents left on Toronto’s schedule and the career numbers for Matthews against them, it’s hard to rule out 70.
Now, he needs 60 before he can reach 70, and that could come as soon as tonight. With being just one goal shy of his second 60-goal season, Matthews is taking on a Sabres team that hasn’t been able to slow down his goal-scoring ability.
Earlier this season, Matthews recorded a hat trick in Toronto’s 6-4 loss to Buffalo. He’s only been able to score two other goals in the other two games of the season, but five goals in three games is not too shabby.
Over his career against the Atlantic division rivals, he has scored 18 goals in 25 games dating back to his rookie season in 2016-17. It’ll be fun to watch down the stretch of the regular season to see if he can not only get back to 60 goals but also break Alex Ovechkin’s salary cap era record for goals in a season (65) and maybe even reach 70.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Auston Matthews – Max Domi
Bobby McMann – John Tavares – William Nylander
Matthew Knies – Pontus Holmberg – Nick Robertson
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
T.J. Brodie – Ilya Lyubushkin
Mark Giordano – Conor Timmins

Buffalo Sabres’ lineup:

JJ Peterka – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
Zach Benson – Dylan Cozens – Jack Quinn
Jeff Skinner – Peyton Krebs – Jordan Greenway
Zemgus Girgensons – Tyson Jost – Victor Olofsson
Owen Power – Rasmus Dahlin
Bowen Byram – Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – Connor Clifton

Projected goalies:

Ilya Samsonov (TOR) vs Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (BUF)
After leaving last Saturday’s game late in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury after sliding over trying to save Leon Draisaitl’s shot – that went into the net – Ilya Samsonov has been confirmed as the starter in tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.


Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
(Projected lineups from dailyfaceoff.com)

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