Matthews scores his 60th goal as Maple Leafs hit home ice with Red Wings win

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Sixty heads.

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Auston Matthews, you’ve made history.

The Maple Leafs superstar became the first National Hockey League player in 10 years to score 60 goals in a season with a classic terrific shot.

Matthews’ big goal came at 5:49 of the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at the Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night.

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After driving the puck along the blue line, Matthews rolled into the gap and landed a shot over the left shoulder of Detroit goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic in Toronto’s powerplay.

The Leafs beat the Wings 3-0 to seal their lead on home ice in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Matthews, who broke Rick Vive’s record for most goals in a Leafs season earlier this season, became the first player since the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos in the 2011-12 season to score 60 goals.

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The fans, numbering 18,107, immediately rose to applause. Shouts of “Best Player! The best player!” got louder. And a few hats were thrown on the ice even though it was Matthews’ second goal of the night.

On Tuesday morning, Matthews was asked about the possibility of scoring 60 points.

“That would mean a lot,” Matthews said. “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.

“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 Leafs had their fingers crossed thinking Matthews would score his 60th goal.

“No doubt we want to see it,” Leafs captain John Tavares said this morning. “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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Jack Campbell made 20 saves in his fifth shutout of the season.

Tavares gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead at 4:03 of the third when he scored William Nylander’s pass into the open net.

Matthews broke Leafs’ record with his 59th goal on goal.

Before the game started, Matthews needed six shots on goal to break the team record held by Darryl Sittler for one season.

Sittler landed 346 shots on goal in 1975-76, a record that fell when Matthews hit a left to beat Nedeljkovic at 15:48 of the second period.

It was Matthews’ sixth shot on goal of the game.

Matthews was on the puck during the first faceoff. This is nothing new, mind you, but there was something special about Matthews’ step. He had four shots on goal in the first period and it was only a question of when he would hit the target.

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This was due to a great serve from Jason Spezza, who passed to Matthews in front of the Detroit net. Matthews made a quick move and missed the puck past Nedeljkovic.

It was Spezza’s 995th NHL career score. Colin Blackwell also had an assist, the first in 18 games for the Leafs since he was acquired from the Seattle Cracken.

Asked if he plans to use Campbell in the regular season finale against Boston, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said it hasn’t been decided yet.

“We’ll have a conversation with Jack depending on how he feels,” Keefe said. “We think there is enough gap between the (last) two (games) to make this possible. I’m not against it.

“All I’m focused on is making sure Jack feels really good before the first game.”

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Guard Jake Mazzin returned 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.

Whether the defensive team that Keefe used will be the one that plays in Game 1 of the playoffs could be up for debate. It did not include Justin Hall, who is second among Leafs defensemen in ice time on penalties.

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The couples were Morgan Rilly-Ilya Lyubushkin; Muzzin-T.J. Brody and Mark Giordano-Timothy Lillegren. Liljegren’s performance has been a revelation and there is no reason to exclude him from the starting XI. An argument could be made that Hall would remain in the squad due to his work on penalties. On Tuesday, Keefe used Mazzin and Brody, as well as Giordano and Lillegren, for the kill.

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