Auston Matthews scores goal No. 55 to break single-season Leafs record

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Auston Matthews buried his league-leading 55th goal of the 2021-22 campaign on Thursday, breaking the Maple Leafs franchise record for goals scored in a single season.

With the game knotted at ones and Toronto a man up, recently acquired Mark Giordano put one on a tee for Matthews, who leaned into the Leafs record book with a vintage rip from the off-wing dot.

With the goal, Matthews tumbled a franchise record that stood for about 40 years after former Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive tallied 54 goals in 1981-82.

Matthews is arguably the frontrunner among a stacked field of Hart Trophy contenders as he starts to pull away in the goal-scoring race heading into the season’s final weeks. Barring any major slump or setback, Matthews looks poised to be the first player in a decade — Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 —to hit the 60-goal plateau.

Matthews added the overtime winner for good measure to set the record for the most goals in a season by an American-born player, formerly held by Jimmy Carson (1987-88) and Kevin Stevens (1992-93).

With 56 tallies through 66 games this season, Matthews is now averaging 0.83 goals per game. Mario Lemieux was the last player to put the puck in the net at that high a rate. The Leafs have 11 games remaining with Matthews now needing just four more crack 60. Stranger things have happened but it’s hard to see him not doing it