The 24-year-old center scored his 55th goal of the season late in the second period, passing Rick Vaive to claim Toronto’s single-season goal-scoring record. His 56th gave the Maple Leafs the victory in overtime and set the record for most goals by a U.S.-born player in a season.
“This was Auston’s night,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s much deserved and to finish it with an exclamation point.”
Matthews accomplished both feats in only 66 games, and he has netted 49 goals in his past 50 games alone.
Jimmy Carson (1987-88) and Kevin Stevens (1992-93) previously held the record for most goals by a U.S.-born player with 55.
Vaive’s 54-goal mark, meanwhile, had stood for over 40 years, from the 1981-82 campaign (which was the highest-scoring season in modern NHL history). The 62-year-old former winger knew it was only a matter of time before Matthews came for his mantle.
“I’m happy for him, I really am,” Vaive told ESPN. “I expected him to do it two years ago. He’s a generational-type player. It’s been 40 years that I had that record. I’m just glad that I’m around to see it.”
Toronto’s first overall pick in 2016, Matthews had 47 goals before the 2019-20 season was shut down due to COVID-19, and he scored 41 goals in the pandemic-shortened 56-game schedule last year.
photo courtesy of nhl.com