Auston Matthews buried his league-leading 55th goal of the 2021-22 campaign on Thursday, breaking the Maple Leafs franchise record for goals scored in a single season.
With the game knotted at ones and Toronto a man up, recently acquired Mark Giordano put one on a tee for Matthews, who leaned into the Leafs record book with a vintage rip from the off-wing dot.
With the goal, Matthews tumbled a franchise record that stood for about 40 years after former Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive tallied 54 goals in 1981-82.
Matthews is arguably the frontrunner among a stacked field of Hart Trophy contenders as he starts to pull away in the goal-scoring race heading into the season’s final weeks. Barring any major slump or setback, Matthews looks poised to be the first player in a decade — Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 —to hit the 60-goal plateau.
Matthews added the overtime winner for good measure and has 56 tallies through 66 games this season, averaging 0.83 goals per game. Mario Lemieux was the last player to put the puck in the net at that high a rate. The Leafs have 11 games remaining with Matthews now needing just four more crack 60. Stranger things have happened but it’s hard to see him not doing it, especially with the goal-per-game heater he’s been on the past 45 games or so.
The Maple Leafs star is also obliterating the rest when it comes to arguably the true mark of sniping prowess, 5v5 goals, currently sitting with 35 — 10 ahead of second-place Filip Forsberg. Heading into Thursday’s action, Matthews’s 58 points at 5v5 are seven and 11 better than fellow MVP candidates Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, respectively, and both have logged over 100 minutes more than the Leafs centre this season.
Mats Sundin is the Maple Leafs’ all-time leader in goals with 420. Matthews, just 24, already sits at 255 and counting.
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