UNBELIVABLE: Auston Matthews breaks Alex Ovechkin’s 21st century…

Auston Matthews breaks Alex Ovechkin’s 21st century, single-season goal record after scoring 66th goal against Devils.

Auston Matthews broke an Alex Ovechkin goal-scoring record that stood for 16 years on Tuesday night.

Matthews potted his 66th goal of the season in Toronto’s 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, giving the Maple Leafs center the new 21st century, single-season high in goals. Ovechkin previously scored 65 during the 2007-08 campaign — his third season in the NHL.Matthews beat Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen with a wrist shot to give the Maple Leafs a 4-2 lead with 12:27 left in the third period. Max Domi notched the primary assist.

The Great Eight has played cheerleader for Matthews this season as he approached his record.

“God grant that he beat me,” Ovechkin said in February. “If you look at the current hockey, it has a lot more goals, it is more open. So this can be expected.”

Ovechkin added a month later, “He’s a special player. It’s fun to watch. I’m cheering for him. He’s a fun player to watch and the fans are going to love it when he’s going to be 70.”

After passing Ovechkin with goal number 66, Matthews returned some of the niceties.

“It’s cool,” Matthews said. “He’s obviously who he is and what he’s done for the game and what he’s accomplished. It’s a big honor to even be in the same sentence as him.”

Highest single-season goal totals in the 21st century

Player Team Season Games Played Goals
Auston Matthews TOR 2023-24 77 66
Alex Ovechkin WSH 2007-08 82 65
Connor McDavid EDM 2022-23 82 64
David Pastrnak BOS 2022-23 82 61
Auston Matthews TOR 2021-22 73 60
Steven Stamkos TBL 2011-12 82 60
Pavel Bure FLA 2000-01 82 59
Alex Ovechkin WSH 2008-09 79 56
Jonathan Cheechoo SJS 2005-06 82 56
Mikko Rantanen COL 2022-23 82 55
Leon Draisaitl EDM 2021-22 80 55

By jumping over Ovechkin, Matthews has scored the most goals in a single season since Mario Lemieux hit the back of the net 69 nice times during the 1995-96 season. He is also the lone active NHL player to record 60 goals in more than one season.

Matthews notched two points in the game, extending his point streak to 12 games (10g, 11a). Among all NHL players, he ranks sixth in overall scoring with 104 points but is 13 goals ahead of Sam Reinhart (53) for the league lead in goals.

That’s not the only possible record Matthews is coming for. The Maple Leafs star has 365 goals through the first 558 games of his career. At the same point in his career, Ovechkin had 340. The big question for Matthews, who has played all 82 games in a season just once, will be consistency in the later years of his career which Ovechkin mastered.

The next target for the 26-year-old forward will be to record the first 70-goal season in the NHL since both Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny scored 76 goals during the 1992-93 season.

“The process is the same every night,” Matthews said postgame. “I find when you really overthink it and almost want it too much it almost doesn’t go your way. I just try to approach every game the same. Just want to make sure myself individually and as a team we’re doing the right things night in and night out on both sides of the puck. It’s gotta translate here to the postseason. That’s really the mindset.”

Toronto has four games left on their schedule for Matthews to score the four goals to get to 70. Matthews has 18 multi-goal games this season including six hat tricks.

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