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By The Numbers: Matthews back on Rocket Richard pace


After being held to just one goal in nine games to end the month of November, Auston Matthews has found his goal-scoring touch once again in December.

Matthews scored his fifth goal in four games to open the month in Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders, moving back into a tie for the NHL lead with 19 goals on the season.

The 26-year-old centre continues to enjoy streaky success with goals typically coming in bunches this season. Monday's game marked just his fourth one-goal outing of the season, while he's picked up two goals on three occasions and has three hat tricks through 25 games.

Viewers in the Maple Leafs region can watch Matthews and Toronto take on the New York Rangers LIVE on TSN4, and the TSN App tonight at 7pm ET.

Matthews began the season on a torrid pace, registering 13 goals and 18 points, including all three hat tricks, through the team's first 12 games. Amid the stretch that saw him post just the one goal from Nov. 8 through the remainder of the month, Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser managed to catch and eventually pass Matthews in the Rocket Richard race. 

Entering play Tuesday, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is tied with Matthews for the league lead at 19, while Boeser - who has one goal in his past five games - is one back at 18.

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

The Maple Leafs star does currently hold an advantage over the field - scoring at a league-best pace of 0.76 goals per game this season. Kucherov, who has played three more games than Matthews, is scoring at 0.68 goals-per-game pace, followed by Winnipeg Jets sniper Kyle Connor (0.65) and Boeser (0.64). Connor's chances of competing for the Rocket Richard trophy could be impacted as the Jets await an update on the lower-body injury he suffered Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks.

NHL Goals per game leaders - 2023-24

Player GP Goals  Points Goals per game
Auston Matthews 25 19 28 0.76
Nikita Kucherov 28 19 47 0.68
Kyle Connor 26 17 28 0.65
Brock Boeser 28 18 32 0.64
Sam Reinhart 27 17 37 0.63
Zach Hyman 24 15 27 0.63

*Minimum two games played

Matthews is currently on pace to record 62 goals this season, two more than the total he won his second Rocket Richard Trophy with in 2021-2022. 

Kucherov, who has an NHL-high 47 points this season, is on pace for 54 goals and 133 points. The 2018-19 Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner has never led the league in goals.

Matthews is the betting favourite to win the Rocket Richard, listed at +135 at FanDuel. Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, who has 16 goals and 39 points through 26 games, is second at +380. Kucherov (+800) has the fifth-best odds behind the Edmonton Oilers duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, both of whom are listed at +700. McDavid has 10 goals in 23 games after leading the league last season, while Draisaitl has 11 goals in 25 games. 

The gap to sixth is significant with Connor at +1400 amid uncertainty around his availability moving forward.