Matthews, Nylander chase milestones as Maple Leafs begin final road trip against Florida Panthers

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
11 days ago
Although he was on pace for 70 goals roughly two months ago when he was scoring every night, I’m not sure many believed he would actually be one goal shy of the historic milestone with two games to go in the season. Nonetheless, Auston Matthews is within reach of becoming the ninth player in NHL history to accomplish this feat.
Tonight, Matthews and the partially short-handed Toronto Maple Leafs travel down south to Florida to begin their final two-game road trip of the season, starting in Sunrise against the Panthers, whom the Maple Leafs could surely meet in the first round, pending the result of the Boston Bruins’ game later tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
With Toronto having locked in the third spot in the division, there’s not anything the team is playing for other than getting through these last two games healthy enough for game one this weekend and, of course, trying to get Auston Matthews to 70 goals and potentially William Nylander to 100 points, if they play both of the remaining games.
It won’t be an easy task for either player, especially Nylander, who is three points shy of the 100-point mark and enters tonight in a bit of a slump, recording three points – all assists – in his last nine games, including going pointless in their recent meeting against the Panthers and Lightning two weeks ago.
For Matthews, it’s been the opposite. He’s been as hot as anyone in the league as of late, recently being named the NHL’s first star of the week, recording seven points – five goals and two assists – in four games. However, back-to-back on the road against two good teams, knowing you’re one goal shy of doing something special might be difficult. But if there’s a player in the NHL to shrug that off and continue doing what he has been doing all season long, it’s Mr. Auston Matthews.
With a single goal, Matthews could add his name to an elite list of players to score 70 goals in a single season, potentially joining the likes of Gretzky, Lemieux, Hull, Selanne, Mogilny, Nicholls, Kurri, and Esposito.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies – John Tavares – William Nylander
Nick Robertson – Pontus holmberg – Noah Gregor
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly – Ilya Lyubushkin
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Joel Edmundson – Timothy Liljegren
One lineup note: After leaving Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury, Bobby McMann has been officially ruled out for the final two games of the regular season.
However, it’s not just McMann who the Maple Leafs will be without tonight. Max Domi, who missed a practice last week but still suited up for the game on the weekend, has been ruled out for tonight’s game and is likely not expected to suit up for tomorrow’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Florida Panthers’ lineup:

Vladimir Tarasenko – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart
Carter verhaeghe – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Evan Rodrigues
Nick Cousins – Kevin Stenlund – Jonah Gadjovich
Gustav Forsling – Brandon Montour
Niko Mikkola – Dmitry Kulikov
Josh Mahura – Uvis Balinskis

Projected goalies:

Joseph Woll (TOR) vs Anthony Stolarz (FLA)
After another shaky start from Ilya Samsonov on the weekend against the Detroit Red Wings, and with two games remaining on the schedule, Sheldon Keefe has elected to go with Joseph Woll for tonight’s contest against the Panthers, leaving tomorrow’s starter up in the air.


TSN4, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
(Projected lineups from dailyfaceoff.com)

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