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AP

Matthews wins Hart Trophy as NHL's most valuable player

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AUSTON MATTHEWS

“What’s the case? He’s the best scorer,” Toronto Maple Leafs teammate David Kampf said. “He has the most goals. That is the reason.”

Matthews’ 60 goals are the most a player has had in a season since Steven Stamkos scored 60 in 2011-12. Matthews is one of only three players to score that many since the salary cap era began in 2004-05.

An injury slowed Matthews’ push for 60 goals but doesn’t diminish how he has been leading Toronto all season and now into the playoffs.

“It’s just a number,” Leafs defenseman Justin Holl said. “I don’t know if he cares about it that much.”

An added touch: 43 of his goals have come at even strength, also most in the league.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Toronto’s Auston Matthews won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player on Tuesday night, becoming only the third Maple Leaf to win the award and the first since Ted Kennedy in 1954-55.

The 24-year-old forward received 119 first-place votes in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association and finished well ahead of Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers for the honor presented during the NHL Awards Show.

“I can't lie, it feels really good. ... It's pretty special,” Matthews said, though he conceded there were some bittersweet feelings about accepting the award in Tampa, where the two-time defending champion Lightning and Colorado Avalanche will meet in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.

“There is some angst, wishing you were still playing,” Matthews said.

Shesterkin claimed the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. Colorado’s Cale Maker took the Norris Trophy, presented to the league’s best defenseman, and Detroit’s Moritz Seider claimed the Calder Trophy as the top rookie.

Matthews became the first player to score 60 goals since Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos did it 10 years ago, helping the Maple Leafs (54-21-7, 115 points) set franchise records for wins and points. Toronto lost to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning in the first round of the playoffs.

The Maple Leafs star, who posted career bests with 46 assists and 106 points, also took home the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player in the regular season, an honor determined by voting by members of the NHL Players Association.

Shesterkin became the third Rangers goalie in the past 40 years to win the Vezina, joining Henrik Lundqvist (2011-12) and John Vanbiesbrouck (1985-86). He went 36-13-4 with an NHL-best 2.07 goal-against-average and .935 save percentage before leading a playoff run that ended against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final.

Seider is the first Red Wings player to win the Calder Trophy since goalie Roger Crozier during the 1964-65 season. He led all first-year defensemen with 50 points and finished ahead of Toronto’s Michael Bunting and Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras in balloting for the award.

Maker is the fifth defenseman to win Norris within his first three regular seasons, joining Adam Fox, Erik Karlsson, Denis Potvin and Bobby Orr (twice). He led all defensemen with 28 goals while helping the Avalanche finish with a Western Conference-best 119 points (56-19-7).

The 2019-20 Calder Trophy winner beat out Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman and Nashville’s Roman Josi.

“They are such incredible players,” Maker said of the other Norris finalists. “They pushed me hard all season.”

Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom and Nashville’s Juuse Saros were finalists for the Vezina.

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Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Ondrej Palat each had a goal and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning scored four times in the second period and beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Anthony Cirelli, Nicholas Paul and Corey Perry also scored to help the two-time defending champion Lightning bounce back after playing poorly while losing the first two games on the road. Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman had two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 37 shots. Stamkos, Paul, Maroon and Perry scored in the second period, when the Lightning chased Colorado goalie Darcy Kuemper while pulling away to trim their series deficit to 2-1. Gabriel Landeskog had two goals and Mikko Rantanen had two assists for the Avalanche. Game 4 is Wednesday night.

Nazem Kadri scored at 12:02 of overtime — perhaps with too many Colorado players on the ice — and the Avalanche beat Tampa Bay 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to move within a victory of dethroning the two-time defending champion Lightning. Playing for the first time since June 4 due to a thumb injury, Kadri skated in on Andrei Vasilevskiy and slipped a shot under the goaltender’s right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 series lead. Without specifically saying Tampa Bay felt Colorado had too many men on the ice for the winning goal, Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested the goal should not have been allowed. Game 5 is Friday night in Denver.

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