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Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) fights for the rebound as Detroit Red Wings goaltender James Reimer (47) freezes the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Arena, April 13, 2024.Nick Turchiaro/Reuters

No matter where Sheldon Keefe goes, the conversation turns to Auston Matthews.

“I am out and about in rinks with my kids,” the Toronto Maple Leafs coach said early Saturday. “Even yesterday, I had a dozen 10-year-olds run up to me and ask how many goals Auston is going to get.

“Everybody is excited about that. There are a lot of young fans that have not seen something like this in their lifetime.”

The top goal-scorer in the National Hockey League, Matthews, had 68 goals prior to Saturday evening’s game at Scotiabank Arena against the Detroit Red Wings. He added a power-play goal in the second period and ended the night with 69 as Toronto lost 5-4 in overtime.

Matthews’s 69 goals are the most in the league since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux netted 69.

If Matthews scores on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla., or Wednesday in Tampa, he will become the first player in the NHL to reach the 70-mark since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne each accomplished the feat in 1992-1993.

Mogilny had 76 goals for the Buffalo Sabres while Selanne put up 76 for the old Winnipeg Jets.

The regular-season concludes on Thursday and the Maple Leafs are now locked into third place in the Atlantic Division. They will open the playoffs over the weekend either at Boston or Florida. Both the Bruins and Panthers won on Saturday.

After the Maple Leafs beat Tampa Bay in the first round last spring, Florida bounced Toronto out of the playoffs in five games in the second round.

Two years ago, in the last Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the regular season, Matthews scored twice to set a club record with 60.

He entered Saturday’s contest against the Red Wings with a seven-game goal streak during which he had scored nine overall. He had two on Thursday in a loss to New Jersey, and that was his 18th multi-goal game of the 2023-24 campaign.

“He scores pretty goals, dirty goals, one-timers, wrist shots and snapshots off his release while changing the angle,” Detroit’s Patrick Kane said earlier Saturday. Kane knows a bit about scoring, too. In 1,227 regular-season games he has scored 471 goals and has 1,281 points. “He can score any which way.”

Besides Matthews’s exploits, there was a lot riding on the skirmish between division opponents. Detroit is still alive in a battle for the second wildcard position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Matthews loaded up and fired 10 shots on the net and had several close calls but could not get No. 70 in Toronto’s final regular-season home games. He hit a post with his first shot of the contest.

The crowd grew louder and louder each time he touched the puck and tension filled the arena in the waning minutes as fans rooted for a 70th goal.

“It’s exciting, I get it,, especially after he got his 69th,” Keefe said.

Matthews scored his 69th on a power play with assists registered by Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly. Toronto’s other goals were scored by Marner (his 26th), Nick Robertson (14th) and John Tavares (27).

Detroit led 4-1 in the second period before the Maple Leafs stormed back and forged a tie. Dylan Larkin got the game-winner on a power play with 4:19 left in extra time.

The Red Wings had the man-advantage after Max Domi was called for tripping with 11 seconds left in regulation time. Alex DeBrincat scored twice for Detroit, while Larkin, Simon Edvinsson and David Perron had one goal each.

Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov settled down after he allowed four goals on just 13 shots over the first 20 minutes. He ended up with 28 saves.

James Reimer earned the victory in Detroit’s crease by stopping 32 of 36 shots.

With 274 goals at even-strength, Matthews passed Matt Sundin (273) for the most in club history on Thursday.

“Sixty goals were crazy,” Matthew Knies, Toronto’s rookie winger, said this week. “At 65, you kind of look at it in awe. What he does is pretty incredible. I am going to cross my fingers.

“I want to see 70 for sure.”

If it happens, it will be only the 15th time in NHL history.

“I get the hype and everything around it,” Keefe said. “It is certainly fun from my perspective, but I get more of a thrill just watching Auston play.”

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