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NHL - US Sports: Tavares backs Matthews for Hart

Captain John Tavares says Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Auston Matthews must win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most-valuable-player after he reached 60 this season.

The Leafs, 10/1 to win the Stanley Cup in 2021/22, celebrated two goals from Matthews in a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday as the 24-year-old reached the sensational milestone.

Standout season in progress

Matthew is the first player to hit 60 goals in a single season in over a deceade, with Steven Stamkos the last to reach the mark for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011/12.

Matthews, is the 21st NHL player, and third active, to score at least 60 goals in a season. Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals (65 in 2007/08) are the others currently active.

Each time Matthews hits the net, he pads his record for most goals by a Maple Leaf in a single season.

The previous record was set by Rick Vaive (55) which Matthews passed on 7th April. No other American has scored more in an NHL season either.

With the win over Detroit, the Maple Leafs clinched second place in the Atlantic Division and home ice for the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They will face either the Lightning or Boston Bruins.

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Not a close race

Tavares, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons said about his red-hot teammate: "I know I'm being biased, but to me it (the race for the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player) is not close.

"Just the way he goes about it, the way he does it, the consistency, some of the things he's done, you continue to shake your head at times.

"He just wants to be a difference-maker game in and game out."

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