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Matthews two goals away from 70 with three games left


Auston Matthews is on the verge of becoming the ninth player in NHL history to hit the 70-goal mark, sitting two goals away with three games left on the Toronto Maple Leafs schedule.

Matthews added another two goals to his season total in Thursday's 6-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils, leaving him just two goals shy of joining the exclusive 70-goal club.

He will take aim at 70 in Toronto's final home game Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings, with road games against the Florida Panther and Tampa Bay Lightning to follow to close out the season. Matthews is without a goal in two games against the Red Wings, the only Atlantic Division team he hasn't scored on this year. He has two goals in three games against the Panthers, Toronto's likely first-round opponent, and three in three games against the Lightning. 

There have been 14 70-goal seasons in league history, with Wayne Gretzky owning four of them, Brett Hull having three and Mario Lemieux doing so twice. 

The 26-year-old centre has already scored the most goals in any season since Lemieux posted 69 in 1995-96, a year before Matthews was born. 

"It’s remarkable what he’s doing,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said after Thursday's loss. “I think there’s no question about it, we are seeing something truly special, so just appreciate it every night and, as a team, we want to do a good job with our game as a whole to maximize when you have a player like that who can put the puck in the net as frequently as he can.”

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

Matthews has already posted the greatest goal-scoring season in Maple Leafs history and continues to move up the all-time ranks for the franchise. He passed Dave Keon for third on Toronto's all-time goals list Thursday, and his 367 now trail only Darryl Sittler (389) and Mats Sundin (420) - both of which could be within reach next season. 

"He's rewriting the record books," Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. "There's a lot of Leaf fans that, in their lifetime, haven't seen that many goals in the NHL. It's pretty remarkable. Wherever this ends up going, who knows?

"I wouldn't put any limit on it."

While a chance at the historic 70-goal mark looms over the next three games, Matthews insists his focus extends beyond the regular season. 

"Nice to reflect on for a little while," he said Thursday. "But there's a bigger goal in mind."