Matthews finds the net twice, bringing his season tally to 57 goals, as the Leafs dominate the Capitals 7-3, even with Ovechkin scoring twice

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Auston Matthew (Credits: ESPN)

Auston Matthews still relishes the opportunity to face Alex Ovechkin, whom he admired while growing up. Despite Ovechkin’s vintage performance, Matthews managed to steal the spotlight.

Matthews netted his NHL-leading 56th and 57th goals of the season and matched his career-best with five points, propelling the Toronto Maple Leafs to a commanding 7-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night, even as Ovechkin closed in on Wayne Gretzky’s record. Meanwhile, Matthews’ quest for the elusive 70-goal mark, unseen in over three decades, gained momentum.

“When you witness the top players competing like that, it’s always a thrill,” remarked Leafs forward Bobby McMann. “It’s satisfying to come out on top, but it’s cool to witness.”

Ovechkin notched goals 844 and 845 of his illustrious career, edging 50 closer to surpassing Gretzky’s seemingly unbreakable record. He now boasts 23 goals this season, rallying from a slow start with 15 goals since Jan. 22 after managing just eight in his initial 43 games.

“We’re running out of words to describe it,” Matthews remarked. “He’s the ultimate goal-scorer, so it’s always a joy to compete against him and see him continue to excel. The passion and excitement he brings when he scores goals are infectious. Obviously, we prefer him not to score against us, but when you’re that talented, opportunities arise, and he capitalizes on them most of the time.”

Matthews’ brace, with a potential hat-trick goal disallowed on an offside call after a coach’s challenge, puts him eight goals away from matching Ovechkin’s career-best season of 65 from 2007-08, the highest since the NHL’s salary cap era began in 2005.

Washington Capitals (Credits: AP News)

“We had no answer for No. 34 tonight,” acknowledged Capitals coach Spencer Carbery, referring to Matthews’ jersey number.

While Ovechkin and Matthews showcased their scoring prowess, they weren’t the only ones shining. Connor McMichael also found the back of the net for Washington, while William Nylander, Jake McCabe, McMann, Tyler Bertuzzi, and John Tavares contributed to Toronto’s goal tally, rebounding from a 4-3 loss the previous night in Philadelphia.

“We collectively responded well, and everyone stepped up from the opening shift,” noted Max Domi, who notched four assists. “When everyone is firing on all cylinders, we’re a formidable team.”

In a fast-paced, high-scoring affair that favored the offense, Joseph Woll made 18 saves for the Leafs, while Charlie Lindgren stopped 22 shots for the Capitals. Washington’s winning streak ended at three, leaving them one point behind Detroit for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s never going to be easy,” Ovechkin acknowledged.

The Capitals played without injured winger T.J. Oshie and forward Aliaksei Protas, while Toronto enforcer Ryan Reaves was sidelined after sustaining a poke in the right eye during a fight the previous night in Philadelphia. Veteran defenseman T.J. Brodie was a healthy scratch for the Leafs.


By James Brown

A passionate and driven individual currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Born on 06 February, hails from Raipur, where their journey into the world of technology and creativity began.

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