NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Auston Matthews knows that his teammates and most of the people in Toronto want him to score 70 goals this season and become only the ninth player in NHL history to accomplish the feat.

That's why he's trying not to think about it too much.

Matthews scored his league-high 66th goal, extended his goal streak to six games and point streak to a dozen in leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-2 victory over New Jersey on Tuesday night, ending the disappointing Devils' playoff hopes.

“I think the process is the same every night,” the 26-year-old Matthews said. “I find when you really overthink it and kind of almost want it too much it almost doesn’t go your way so I try and approach it the same and obviously want to make sure myself individually and as a team we’re doing the right things night in and night out.”

After a slow start, the Maple Leafs broke things open when Mark Giordano and Tyler Bertuzzi scored in a 9-second span late in the the second period to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.

Nicholas Robertson also scored and Joseph Woll made 18 saves for Toronto, which now has 101 points with four games left in the regular season.

“For us as a team we needed to come together a little more with four games left and keep up the consistency and just get ready for the playoffs and have that playoff mindset and play these last four games like it’s playoff hockey,” said Bertuzzi, who added an empty-net goal late, his 21st of the season.

Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer scored for New Jersey, while Jake Allen made 32 saves.

“I think they’ve played hard," Devils interim coach Travis Green said of the team that set a franchise record for points last season. “We’ve been in a lot of games and haven’t found a way to win games where I felt we deserved a better fate.”

Matthews' 66th came on a shot from the circle that beat Allen at 7:33 of the final period.

His 66 goals are the most in a season among all active players. Alex Ovechkin of Washington has the previous high among active players entering the season when he scored 65 in the 2007-08 season.

“I think just obviously when you watch him play, the amount of pucks he puts on net, the shots, the caliber of them is pretty special,” said Mercer who picked up his 20th in the game. “Anyone in the league doing that is pretty special, and it hasn’t happened in so many years.”

After Mercer gave the Devils a 2-1 lead early in the second period on a power play, Allen kept New Jersey ahead until Bertuzzi scored off a great cross-ice pass by Max Domi. Giordano tallied seconds later on a shot from the point.


Eight players have scored 70 goals in a regular season, led by Wayne Gretzky, who did it four times with 92 in 1981-82 being the league record. Others who have done it are Brett Hull (three times), Mario Lemieux (twice), Alexander Mogilny, Phil Esposito, Teemu Selanne, Jari Kurri and Bernie Nicholls.


Maple Leafs: Host Devils on Thursday night.

Devils: At Toronto on Thursday night.



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