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NHL: Auston Matthews is on probation by the Panthers and remains at 69 goals

NHL: Auston Matthews is on probation by the Panthers and remains at 69 goals

SUNRISE, Fla. — Auston Matthews was placed on probation Tuesday night in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 5-2 loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers, in Toronto's penultimate game of the season.

After 81 games, the Leafs star center remains stuck at 69 goals. He is trying to become the first player since Brett Hull in the 1990-1991 season to score 70 goals in a season.

With this defeat, Sheldon Keefe's men will begin their playoff campaign against the Boston Bruins, who they last faced in the spring of 2019, at the same point in the postseason schedule.

As for the Panthers, who finished their regular season with four straight wins, they will find a familiar opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who swept them in four games in 2022.

The No. 34 had some good chances to complete the feat, but came up against backup goalkeeper Anthony Stolarz.

Mitch Marner and Noah Gregor allowed Toronto to take a quick 2-0 lead with 12 minutes to play in the first period.

But once the break returned, the Panthers stormed the cage defended by Joseph Wall, on his way to scoring five goals in a row, including the 56th and 57th goals from Sam Reinhart.

Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour contributed to Florida's surge in the final two-thirds.

On Wednesday, Matthews and his teammates will skate at Amalie Arena.

Keefe was asked if his sharpshooter would play this last game of the season even if there were no potential fallout in the standings.

“We have 12 healthy forwards,” he summed up. We're going to talk about that. »

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If the American would like to join a select group of 13 skaters who have scored 70 goals in a season, Russian Nikita Kucherov will want to confirm the Art-Ross Award given to the best pointer at the Pitman rink.

With his 43 goals and 99 assists for a total of 142 points in their last meeting, Kucherov has a four-point lead over Nathan MacKinnon (51-87-138) of the Colorado Avalanche.

By adding his 100th assist to his record, the 86th Tampa native will become the fifth hockey player in NHL history to do so, two days after the Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid added his name to those of Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

There is also one game remaining on the schedule for the Avalanche, which will host the Oilers on Thursday on the final day of action before the playoffs.

The Jets are guaranteed to play at home in the first round

Kyle Connor scored twice and Tyler Toffoli broke the tie in the third period as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Seattle Kraken 4-3.

With their victory, the Jets take second place in the Central Division and will have home-ice advantage in their first-round duel against the Colorado Avalanche.

Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, while Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey had two assists.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 20 shots for the Jets, who will play their final game of the season on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Yanni Jordi scored and had an assist in the loss. Tomas Tatar and Ty Carty also found the back of the net for the Kraken. Philipp Grubauer made 20 saves.

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Comtois gets a point

Zach Werenski had two goals and two assists, Jett Graves made 38 saves, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3.

The Hurricanes, who finished second in the Metropolitan Division, gave eight regular players on their roster a night off.

The Hurricanes had the second-best record (52-23-7, 111 points) in the Eastern Conference, behind the New York Rangers.

This is the sixth year in a row that the Hurricanes have qualified for the playoffs.

The Blue Jackets missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Luca Del Belloz scored in his first NHL game.

James Malatesta, Johnny Gaudreau and Alexander Nylander also scored for the Blue Jackets.

Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and Jesperi Kotkaniemi also found the back of the net for the Hurricanes. Maxime Comtois had an assist on Kotkaniemi's goal in his first NHL game of the season.

In his first start since February 29, Spencer Martin stopped 19 shots.