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Hyman 'not focused' on hitting 50-goal mark in Toronto

Zach Hyman Edmonton Oilers Zach Hyman - The Canadian Press

Edmonton Oilers winger Zach Hyman is closing in on the 50-goal mark, but he isn't prioritizing trying to do it against his former team.

Hyman scored two goals in Thursday's 8-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, bringing his total to 48 on the season with the Oilers set to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

“Oh, yeah. Obviously, it would be special, but I’m not focused on it,” Hyman said of the possibility. “Really, I just want to win there. I don't think I've won there since I've been here. So, it would be great to go in there and win.”

Hyman is tied for second in the NHL goal-scoring race with Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart, with his former linemate, Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews, nine goals ahead with 57. 

The 31-year-old spent the first six seasons of his career with the Maple Leafs, maxing out at 21 goals in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. He joined the Oilers on a seven-year, $38.5 million deal in 2021 and has set a new career-high in goals in each of his first three years with the team.

The Toronto native had 27 goals in his first year as an Oiler and posted 36 last season before soaring to new heights this season. After finishing with 83 points in 79 games last year, Hyman is again on track to top a point-per-game pace with 67 points through 66 games.

Saturday's game in Toronto will mean more than just the race to 50 goals for Hyman, though, as Edmonton continues to try to chase down the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division. The Oilers are currently eight points back of the Canucks with three games in hand. 

“We’re finding ways to get wins. I would still like to see a little bit more control of games,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said after defeating the Sabres. “I still think we are finding our game. It is nice that we are winning and producing wins, but I still think there is more there to be had, more urgency, which is a good thing.

“It’s that time of year when we need to ramp up and get ready to go. We are still playing for positioning and all that. There is still lots to be playing for.”

While Hyman is chasing 50 goals, McDavid is also looking to be the first player in more than two decades to hit 100 assists in a season. He has 86 through 65 games after four-assist performance in Buffalo.