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By the Numbers: Hat-trick happy Matthews strikes again

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews - The Canadian Press

With his fifth hat trick of the season, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews continues to torch franchise records and separate himself from the field in the NHL's goal-scoring race.

The 26-year-old netted all three of his goals against the Philadelphia Flyers in less than eight minutes in the second period of the Leafs' 4-3 win on Thursday night.

“I’m kind of used to [Matthews getting hat tricks] by now, I guess. It’s just something he does,” said teammate Timothy Liljegren postgame on Thursday. “He goes on a roll and it’s not even that good of scoring chances. He’s a goal scorer, so it’s fun to see.”

With his trio of goals, Matthews tied Darryl Sittler (1980-81), Babe Dye (1924-25), and Reg Noble (1917-18) for the most hat tricks in a single season in Maple Leafs history.

But the accolades don't stop there for the San Ramon, Calif., native as Matthews became one of just three players in the past 30 years to record at least five hat tricks in a season, joining Jonathan Cheechoo (five in 2005-06) and Mario Lemieux (six in 1995-96).

The Maple Leafs still have 30 games remaining on their schedule as Matthews look to sit alone in modern history at seven. 

Matthews also recorded his 72nd career multi-goal game in the process, passing Sittler for the most in franchise history.

One of the most dominant scoring threats since he entered the league in 2016 by scoring 40 in his rookie season, Matthews continues to climb the Maple Leafs' all-time scoring list. He now sits 76 goals behind Mats Sundin for the lead in that category and 379 points behind the Hall of Famer for the franchise lead in points.

Now owning 45 goals on the season, Matthews has built a six-goal cushion on Florida Panthers centre Sam Reinhart in the Rocket Richard Richard Trophy race this season. 

Matthews is looking to become just the second player to win the Rocket three times. Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin – a nine-time winner – is currently alone in that category since the award was introduced in 1999.