Maple Leafs Matthews wants 60 goals but ‘it’s not the end of the world’ if it doesn’t happen

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Auston Matthews would like to hit a couple of shots in the Maple Leafs’ last two regular season games.

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If that happens, the Leafs superstar will become the first National Hockey League to score 60 goals in 10 years.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” Matthews said after the Leafs’ morning screening at the Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday. “I’ve had some really good moments lately, but the puck didn’t fly. As long as I get these chances, I know they will be lost.

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“It’s not the end of the world either (if it doesn’t happen). There’s more to this season than achieving that, but this season I don’t care about anything (more than winning).”

The last time he scored 60 goals in the NHL was in the 2011-12 season, when Steven Stamkos scored 60 goals for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In three games this season against the Leafs’ rival Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at the Scotiabank Arena, Matthews has scored just one goal.

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Matthews went five games without a goal, his longest drought in 2021–22. In two games since returning from an undisclosed minor injury, Matthews landed 11 shots on goal.

Linemate Mitch Marner needs three points to reach 100 points for the first time in his NHL career.

Matthews scored 58 goals in 72 games. He is three goals ahead of Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers for the Rocket Richard Trophy.

The Leafs need one point to finish second in the Atlantic Division and gain home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. On Friday, they will end the regular season at home against the Boston Bruins.

“No doubt we want to see it,” Leafs captain John Tavares said of Matthews’ 60-goal ambition. “He is in this position because of the way he approached it and the way he continues to work on his game and his consistency and the diligence he puts in.”

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Winger Michael Banting, who was busted out of the game in Florida on Saturday and then missed the game in Washington, was on the ice before the morning’s skating. Bunting fell clumsily behind the Panthers’ net and walked away that night, favoring his right foot.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said the situation was positive for Bunting, but added that the 26-year-old would not play in the final two games.

Guard Jake Mazzin will return to the Leafs after missing the last six games with an undisclosed injury.

Returning on April 5 from his second concussion of the season, Muzzin only played four games.

“Very important,” Keefe said of Mazzin’s involvement against the Wings. “He needs game reps to pick up speed and then build confidence that he’s ready to go (to the playoffs).”

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Defender Rasmus Sandin (knee) and winger Ondrej Kase (concussion) took part in the morning rolling. Sandin is expected to join the Leafs for full training later this week, but there is no timeline for Case’s return yet.

Goalkeeper Petr Mrazek (groin) has also been skating but is not believed to be close to making a comeback.

Jack Campbell will start in goal for the Leafs. According to Keefe, it remains to be determined whether he will reach the final.

Nick Robertson has been called out of the Toronto Marlies on an emergency basis and will ride second. Robertson has scored seven goals in his last nine games for the farm club.

Defender Karl Dahlström is back with the Marleys.

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Estimated composition of the Leafs:

FORWARDS

LW-C-RW

Alex Curfoot-Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner

Ilya Mikheev-John Tavares-Nick Robertson

William Nylander-David Kampf-Pierre Engval

Nick Abruzzi-Colin Blackwell-Jason Spezza

DEFENSE

Morgan Rilly-Ilya Lyubushkin

Jake Mazzin-T Jay Brody

Mark Giordano-Timothy Lilliegren

Goalkeepers

Jack Campbell

Eric Kallgren

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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