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Saturday, April 8, 2017

{allcanada} Auston Matthews of Maple Leafs scores 40th goal

 

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored his 40th goal of the season on Saturday, becoming the fourth NHL rookie to score that many in a season prior to turning 20.

The 19-year-old center scored an empty-net goal with four seconds left in the third period of a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins to join Dale Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux and Sylvain Turgeon.

"It's pretty nice," Matthews said. "Like I've said before, I play with some pretty good players. I think all in all, our team's gotten better each segment, each game, each month, and that's basically been the goal for everybody."

Hawerchuk, 18, scored 45 goals with the Winnipeg Jets in 1981-82; Lemieux, 19, scored 43 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1984-85; and Turgeon, 19, scored 40 with the Hartford Whalers in 1983-84.

Wayne Gretzky scored 51 goals as an 18-year-old in 1979-80, his first NHL season with the Edmonton Oilers, but wasn't a rookie because he played the season prior in the World Hockey Association.

Mathews has the most goals by a rookie since Alex Ovechkin, who was 20, scored 52 for the Capitals in 2005-06. Teemu Selanne set the NHL rookie record with 76 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93, when he was 22.

Matthews is the 15th NHL rookie to score 40 goals. The last teenager to score 40 was Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who was 19 when he scored 41 in 2003-04, his second NHL season.

Matthews has 69 points (40 goals, 29 assists), which is a Maple Leafs rookie record. Peter Ihnacak had 66 (28 goals, 38 assists) in 1982-83.

"Obviously he's a good player," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said of Matthews. "He's a special talent, but more importantly than that, he's a special person. That's going to allow him to be a real leader because he does it right every day, and in the end, that'll allow him to drive a franchise and allow it to win. So I think he's a real good player and a real good man and has a chance to be special."

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