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Matthews becomes lone active player with 66 goals in a season

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews - The Canadian Press

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews netted his 66th goal of the campaign Tuesday, passing Alex Ovechkin for the most by any active player in a season.

Matthews scored in the third period of Toronto's 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, boosting his April goal total to five in four games. He needs to average a goal per game as the Leafs season winds down to post the15th 70-goal campaign in NHL history.

The 26-year-old's record-setting campaign has left even his opponents in awe. 

“I think just obviously when you watch him play, the amount of pucks he puts on net, the shots, the calibre of them is pretty special,” Devils forward Dawson Mercer said. “Anyone in the league doing that is pretty special, and it hasn’t happened in so many years.”

Washington Capitals superstar Ovechkin hit the 65-goal mark in 2007-08, which stood as the cap era record until Tuesday night. Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid fell just shy of tying that mark last season, finishing with 64.

"It's cool (to pass Ovechkin). He's obviously who he is and what he's done for the game and what he's accomplished," Matthews said. "It's an honour to be in the same sentence with him."

Matthews' 66 goals are the most in a season since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne both hit 76 goals in the 1992-93 season. 

While his teammates have spoken openly of their hopes of seeing 70 goals, Matthews said his focus remains on team success as the first round of the postseason looms. 

"I think the process is the same every night," Matthews said. "I find when you really overthink it and want it too much, it almost doesn't go your way. Obviously, you want to make sure, individually and as a team, you're doing the right things night in and night out on both sides of the puck that will translate well in the Stanley Cup playoffs."

NHL 70-Goal Seasons

Player Team Season GP  G P
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1981-82 80 92 212
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1983-84 74 87 205
Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 1990-91 78 86 131
Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins 1988-89 76 85 199
Alexander Mogilny Buffalo Sabres 1992-93 77 76 127
Phil Esposito  Philadelphia Flyers 1970-71 78 76 152
Teemu Selanne Winnipeg Jets 1992-93 84 76 132
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1984-85 80 73 208
Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 1989-90 80 72 113
Jari Kurri Edmonton Oilers 1984-85 73 71 135
Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 1982-83 80 71 196
Brett Hull St. Louis Blues 1991-92 73 70 109
Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins 1987-88 77 70 168
Bernie Nicholls Los Angeles Kings 1988-89 79 70 150

The Maple Leafs continue their final stretch of the season with another game against the Devils Thursday before facing the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning to end the campaign.