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Matthews on the verge of second 60-goal season as Maple Leafs visit Carolina

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Photo credit:Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
26 days ago
It took 68 games, but Auston Matthews finally scored an empty net goal after depositing his 58th goal of the season from inside his blue line into the vacant cage to secure last night’s 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
As Matthews enters PNC Arena to take on the Carolina Hurricanes for the third and final time this regular season and the second time in nine days with 58 goals, he’ll be searching for his second 60-goal season.
Whenever the 26-year-old reaches 60 goals, he will become just the ninth player in NHL history to score 60 goals in a season twice, joining Mike Bossy (5), Wayne Gretzky (5), Mario Lemieux (4), Phil Esposito (4), Brett Hull (3), Pavel Bure (2), Jari Kurri (2), and Steve Yzerman (2), according to records.nhl.com.
It’s spectacular that in a so-called “down year”, Matthews scored 40 goals in 74 games following his MVP season, when he registered 60 goals in 73 games. Fast forward to the 2023-24 season, Matthews is now sitting at 58 goals in 68 games, on a pace to reach 69 goals through the final 13 games of the regular season.
However, despite needing just two goals to reach the elusive milestone for the second time in three years, Matthews hasn’t been able to crack the Hurricanes’ goaltending code this season, going goalless in two games despite recording 12 shots.
But it’s not just this season. Auston Matthews hasn’t scored at the same rate compared to other teams. According to Statmuse.com, his nine goals (16 games) against Carolina rank in the bottom ten among teams he’s scored on in his career. It’ll be a difficult task, nonetheless.
However, if someone can score two goals against a good defensive team like the Hurricanes, it’s Auston Matthews, who not only has his eyes on his second 60-goal season, but 70 goals. If able to reach that milestone, he could become just the ninth player in NHL history to do so, and the first since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny scored 76 during the 1992-93 season.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Max Domi
Bobby McMann – John Tavares – William Nylander
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Noah Gregor
Nick Robertson – Pontus Holmberg – Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly – Jake McCabe
Joel Edmundson – Timothy Liljegren
Simon Benoit – Conor Timmins

Carolina Hurricanes’ lineup:

Jake Guentzel – Sebastian Aho – Seth Jarvis
Teuvo Teravainen – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Martin Necas
Andrei Svechnikov – Jordan Staal – Jordan Martinook
Brendan Lemieux – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Stefan Noesen
Jacob Slavin – Brent Burns
Brady Skjei – Brett Pesce
Dmitry Orlov – Jalen Chatfield

Projected goalies:

Joseph Woll (TOR) vs Frederik Andersen (CAR)
During last night’s game against Edmonton, it was announced that Joseph Woll was sent to Carolina early for his start against the Hurricanes, with Martin Jones backing Ilya Samsonov up in yesterday’s game.
After Samsonov departed the game with roughly three and a half minutes to go after sustaining an injury on Leon Drasaitl’s goal to cut Toronto’s lead to two, it was announced by Sheldon Keefe postgame that the netminder was “fine”. It’ll be interesting to see who is on the bench to back Woll up tonight.

Broadcast:

Sportsnet, 6:00 pm ET/3:00 pm PT
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
(Projected lineups from dailyfaceoff.com)

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