Panthers’ Paul Maurice on Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews: ‘You’re not stopping him’

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When it comes to scoring goals in this league, you’re hard pressed to find someone more effective this season than Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews.

Scoring his 60th goal on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres and his 61st on Monday, Matthews is now the only active NHLer to reach that milestone twice and, with a handful of Maple Leafs games remaining in the regular season, the 26-year-old will shatter his career-high in goals.

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice is well aware of the goal-scoring phenom for his team’s divisional rival and likely playoff opponent, and was brutally honest with reporters when asked how the Panthers would approach defending the two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner.

“What game is it? 74? Well, he’s got 60 of them (goals), so nobody’s figured that out,” Maurice said. “I’m just going to put a bunch of guys out and hope they defend the hell out of it, if we can.

“You’re not stopping him — you just hope he scores the next night, not the night you’re there in town.”

Before Monday’s showdown at Scotiabank Arena, the Panthers were one of the few teams Matthews had not scored on this season — until 15 minutes into the first when Maurice’s team left Matthews wide open on the backdoor, allowing him to easily redirect a shot from T.J. Brodie into the open net.

“(He’s) in that elite category of players around the league that you don’t stop. He’s going to get his, and you hope your goalie has a good night and hope the posts are a little thinner at their end than at ours and play hard.”

Unfortunately for Maurice, that hasn’t slowed Matthews yet.

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