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By The Numbers: Matthews' fourth hat trick builds on Rocket lead

Auston Matthews Auston Matthews - Getty Images

After another hat-trick performance in a win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews widened his lead in the NHL's goal scoring race as he looks to capture the third Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy of his career. 

The 26-year-old American won the award in back-to-back seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22, scoring 41 and 60 goals, respectively. However, it appears Matthews has the potential to set a new career high as he's netted 37 goals through 42 games so far this season and is on pace to finish with 72.  

Over his eight-year career with the Maple Leafs, the 2016 first-overall pick has never scored fewer than 34 goals in a season. Since entering the league in 2016-17, Matthews has tallied the most goals in the NHL.  


NHL Goal Leaders since 2016-17

Player Goals
 Auston Matthews (TOR) 336 
 Leon Draisaitl (EDM) 307 
 Alex Ovechkin (WSH) 305 
 David Pastrnak (BOS) 305 
 Connor McDavid (EDM) 303 
Nathan MacKinnon (COL) 249 
Mikko Rantanen (COL)  244
Brayden Point (TB)  239 
Sidney Crosby (PITT) 238
Brad Marchand (BOS) 238

Matthews is leading the goal-scoring race once again this season with only one other player having reached the 30-goal mark. 

2023-24 Goal Scoring Race

Player Goals
 Auston Matthews (TOR) 37 
Sam Reinhart (FLA)  33 
 David Pastrnak (BOS) 29 
 Nikita Kucherov (TB) 28 
 Artemi Panarin   27
 Brock Boeser (VAN) 27 
 Zach Hyman (EDM) 27 
 Sidney Crosby (PITT)  26
 Nathan MacKinnon (COL) 24 
 Elias Pettersson (VAN)  24

If Matthews can stay healthy and hold onto his lead, he'll become the second player in NHL history to win three Rocket Richard trophies, passing Pavel Bure, Jarome Iginla, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby, who all won the prestigious award twice since its inception in 1998-99. 

Washington Capitals great Alex Ovechkin has won the trophy nine times, including four straight from 2012-2016, as he continues his pursuit of Wayne Gretzky for the all-time goal-scoring record. Ovechkin, who has just eight goals in 40 games this season in one of the worst slumps of his career, hasn't won the Rocket since 2019-20. 


Hat Trick Hero

Matthews has scored in bunches this season. 

The centre scored hat tricks in back-to-back games to start the season, added another in December before recording his fourth trick of the season against Calgary on Thursday.

Impressive, but still a long way to go to catch The Great One, who netted 10 three-or-more-goal games during both the 1981-82 and 1983-84 seasons, a record that still stands today. 

Most Three or More Goal Games in a Single Season

Player Number of Three Goals + Games Year
 Wayne Gretzky (EDM) 10  1981-82
 Mike Bossy (NYI) 1980-81 
Mario Lemieux (PITT)  1988-89 
Brett Hull (STL) 1991-92 
 87th - Auston Matthews (TOR) 2021-22

He also has eight two-goal games this season. 

Matthews has 11 hat tricks over his eight-year career while Gretzky holds the all-time record with 50 over 20 seasons.