Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs fell behind the Detroit Red Wings early on. And although they came back, they could not secure the win. Toronto fell to the Winged Wheel in overtime on Saturday in a win that Detroit desperately needed. However, it was still a noteworthy night for Matthews.

The Maple Leafs superstar scored his 69th goal of the 2023-24 season on Saturday. As a result, he is the first player since Pittsburgh Penguins icon Mario Lemieux to score 69 goals in a single campaign, according to Sportsnet Stats. “Super Mario” scored 69 or more on four occasions. His final 69+ goal season came during the 1995-96 campaign.

Matthews certainly tried to score more than the lone goal, though. He led all Maple Leafs skaters with 10 shots against the Red Wings on Saturday. However, a two-goal night from Alex DeBrincat, paired with an overtime winner from Dylan Larkin, sank Toronto in front of their home fans.

Auston Matthews is on the verge of 70 goals

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) skates during the warmup before a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Scotiabank Arena.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews is looking to go beyond 69 goals. He is looking to become the first 70-goal scorer since the 1992-93 NHL season. That season, Winnipeg Jets rookie Teemu Selanne and Buffalo Sabres sophomore Alexander Mogilny both scored 76 goals on the year. Others have come close in the following years, but have fallen short each time.

In fact, Matthews came within 10 goals of the feat once before. He scored 60 goals back during the 2021-22 NHL campaign. His efforts did see him win the Hart Trophy as the MVP of the league. However, it did not translate to playoff success, as the Maple Leafs bowed out in round one.

There have been 14 different 70-goal seasons in league history. The first came in 1970-71 when Boston Bruins star Phil Esposito found the back of the net 76 times in 78 games. Of these 70+ goal seasons, four of them have reached 80 or more. Wayne Gretzky holds the record for most goals in a single NHL season with 92.

Red Wings stay live with win over Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs did not pick up the win on Saturday night. However, the game was vital for the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit picked up two points with their overtime win. As a result, they remain alive in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A regulation loss would have seen the Winged Wheel eliminated.

Matthews did not score Toronto's first goal. That belonged to Mitch Marner, who scored on the power play. The Red Wings stormed back, though. They scored four goals in the first period, with two coming from Alex DeBrincat. Unfortunately, Detroit would not have an easy time the rest of the game.

The Maple Leafs fought back in the second period. Nick Robertson made it 4-2 before Matthews scored hiss 69th goal to pull his team within one. Finally, hometown star John Tavares leveled the game after firing a shot over the shoulder of former Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer.

The Maple Leafs and Red Wings played a scoreless third period. However, Toronto entered overtime down a man after Max Domi was called for tripping. Detroit took full advantage of their power play in overtime. Dylan Larkin needed just 41 seconds to give his team a vital victory on Saturday.

Auston Matthews continues his chase for 70 goals with just two games remaining. Toronto's next game is on April 16th when the Maple Leafs take on the Florida Panthers. They end the regular season with a matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road.