Auston Matthews joins exclusive Toronto Maple Leafs club with 50th NHL lead goal

Auston Matthews scored his 50th NHL-leading goal of the season and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Winnipeg Jets 7-3 on Thursday night.

Matthews scored Toronto’s sixth goal of the game against an empty net with 2:06 remaining. He surpassed Leon Draisaitl (49 goals) of idle Edmonton to lead the league and became the first Maple Leafs player to reach the milestone since Dave Andreychuk scored 53 goals in the 1993-94 season.

“I don’t know if I really envision it as a goal in an empty net, but I’ll take it,” Matthews said. “I had some good opportunities tonight, just didn’t go in.

“Fortunately, the last one did.”

Matthews joins Andreychuk, Rick Vaive (three times) and Gary Leeman as the only Maple Leafs players to reach the scoring milestone in half a century.

“It’s really special to be able to do it here in front of all the fans,” said Matthews, whose team hit the road for four straight days starting Saturday in Philadelphia. “The energy, the atmosphere and all that goes into it just makes it so much more fun.”

Matthews was twice robbed by COVID-19 with 50 goals. He netted 47 times in 70 games during the 2019-20 season before the pandemic abruptly ended the regular season before scoring 41 in 52 competitions during the 2020-21 coronavirus shortening campaign to win. His first win was Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the top scorer for the NHL.

Thursday was Matthews’ 62nd game of the season – he missed three games through injury and two through suspension – while Draisaitl was fit in each of Edmonton’s 68 games.

According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, Matthews is the fastest player to reach 50 goals in a season since 1995-96, when four players achieved the feat – Mario Lemieux (50 games), Jaromir Jagr (59 games). ), Alexander Mogilny (60 games) and Peter Bondra (62 games)

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Auston Matthews joins exclusive Toronto Maple Leafs club with 50th NHL lead goal

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