On a night when the Toronto Maple Leafs honored Auston Matthews for setting the single-season franchise mark for goals earlier in the week, the star center added two more before the first period even ended.
Matthews netted his 57th and 58th goals 27 seconds apart early on in the first frame as the Maple Leafs outlasted the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 to reach 100 points on the season.
John Tavares added his 26th goal of the season and goaltender Erik Kallgren made 24 saves as Toronto won its seventh game in the past eight to officially secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference for the sixth straight year. The Maple Leafs also padded their lead in second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Florida Panthers.
Matthews’ opener marked his 50th goal in his past 50 games, making him the first player to accomplish the feat since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96.
Matthews extended his points streak to 16 games (21 goals, 10 assists). Linemate Mitchell Marner has a 13-game run (eight goals, 20 assists).
“You knew something special was happening,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I’m actually surprised he stopped at two [goals].”
During the victory over their biggest rival, Matthews and the Maple Leafs often heard chants of “M-V-P!” cascade down from the stands.
“You just get kind of get chills,” Matthews said of hearing the calls. “Chills in your bones.”
Cole Caufield and Joel Edmundson scored for Montreal. Jake Allen stopped the first 14 shots he faced before leaving with an apparent leg injury as he stretched for Matthews’ first goal. Sam Montembeault made 23 stops the rest of the way.
Matthews set Toronto’s single-season record for goals when he scored for the 55th and 56th time Thursday night in a 4-3 overtime victory in Dallas.
Rick Vaive, who held the franchise mark of 54 goals in a campaign for 40 years, was on hand at Scotiabank Arena earlier Saturday to personally congratulate the 24-year-old on his accomplishment before Matthews became the first NHLer in 26 years to bag 50 in 50.
During a stoppage in play in the first period, there was a standing ovation and a highlights package on the arena screens to honor Matthews.
“It was cool,” he said. “I didn’t know it was happening so it took me by surprise.”
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos is the last NHL player to get to 60 goals. He reached that milestone in 2011-12.
If the season ended Saturday night, the Maple Leafs, who will next meet the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, would face off with the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.