Maple Leafs’ Matthews hits 60 goals for 2nd time

NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Toronto center Auston Matthews became the NHL’s first two-time 60-goal scorer in 30 years, scoring with 5:37 left in the Maple Leafs’ 3-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Matthews matched the franchise record he set when he led the NHL in goals two seasons ago. The 26-year-old joins a group of eight NHL players to have multiple 60-goal seasons, and first since Pavel Bure had back-to-back 60-goal campaigns with the Vancouver Canucks in 1992-93 and 1993-94.

Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy lead the list with five 60-goal seasons.

Matthews, from Scottsdale, Arizona, is the only U.S.-born player to score 60 goals in a season.

“It means a lot, obviously,” he said. “This is much of a team accomplishment in my opinion as an individual one. It’s always a fun atmosphere here with all the blue and white in the stands. Definitely pretty cool.”

Matthews did much of the work in setting up the goal by chasing after Buffalo defenseman Bowen Byram, who lost his stick while trying to track a puck dumped into the Sabres’ end. Matthews’ first attempt was stopped by Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The Maple Leafs worked the puck back to the point where Conor Timmins‘ shot was stopped by Luukkonen with Matthews sweeping the loose puck into the open left side to cap the scoring.

Matthews celebrated by going down to one knee and punching the air, before being mobbed by his Maple Leafs teammates at the boards. Though a road game for Toronto, the stands were filled with a large contingent of Maple Leafs fans, who began chanting “MVP! MVP!”

The goal came in the same arena where the Maple Leafs selected Matthews with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.

“It’s really impressive. Obviously, he’s able to score a lot of goals, but his play in all three zones away from the puck with the puck is just exceptional,” Leafs captain John Tavares, who scored the opening goal in his 1,100th NHL game, said about Matthews. “He’s just the total package.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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