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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Toronto Maple Leafs fans travel so well, Auston Matthews became accustomed hearing the chants “We want 60!” whether at home or on the road over the past week.

In Buffalo on Saturday, playing in the same building the Maple Leafs drafted him with the No. 1 pick in 2016, and an arena brimming with fans wearing blue and white jerseys, Matthews delivered.

Sweeping a loose puck into the open left side of the Sabres net with 5:37 left in regulation to cap Toronto’s 3-0 victory, Matthews sparked a electric celebration by becoming the NHL’s first two-time 60-goal scorer in 30 years.

Bending to one knee and punching the air, Matthews was mobbed by his teammates at the boards, while chants of “MVP!” rained from the thousands of Maple Leaf fans who made the 90-minute cross-border trek from Toronto.

“It means a lot, obviously,” Matthews said. “It’s always a fun atmosphere here with all the blue and white in the stands. Definitely pretty cool.”

Matthews matched the franchise record he set when he led the NHL in goals two seasons ago. The 26-year-old joins a group of eight NHL players to have multiple 60-goal seasons, and first since Pavel Bure had back-to-back 60-goal campaigns with the Vancouver Canucks in 1992-93 and 1993-94.

Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy lead the list with five 60-goal seasons.

Matthews, from Scottsdale, Arizona, was the first U.S.-born player to score 60 — and he’s now done it twice.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to think about stuff like that. Honestly, it’s special, obviously,” Matthews said, when asked to put his feat into historical context. “I’ve been fortunate to play with some really great players and a supportive team behind us. I just try to go out every day and compete.”

Matthews became just the sixth player to reach 60 goals in the 2000s. Of those players, he trails only Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who scored 64 last season, and Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, who had 65 in 2007-08.

By scoring, Matthews extended his point streak to seven games, in which he has five goals and eight assist. Of his 60 goals, an NHL-leading 45 have come in even-strength situations.

And Matthews has been on a tear since December. After being limited to 13 goals in his first 21 games, Matthews has combined for 47 in his past 51 — a stretch in which he’s not gone more than two games without scoring.

“He’s had an incredible season, scored in different ways,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He does so much for our team. It’s more than just the goals. But for him to get that is great and if you’re not going to get it at home, this is probably second-best. That was great and I loved the way that the fans acknowledged him, too.”

Matthews and the Leafs didn’t have to look far to feel at home.

Right behind the Sabres bench were eight fans wearing white shirts spelling out his name, “M-A-T-T-H-E-W-S.” In celebrating Matthews’ goal, they raised two gold air balloons of a 6 and 0.

The goal was a hustle play by Matthews in which he chased down Sabres defenseman Bowen Byram, who broke his stick while attempting to play the puck in Buffalo’s zone. After his first attempt was stopped by Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen, Matthews sent the puck back to the point. Lukkonenen stopped Conor Timmins‘ shot, with Matthews converting the rebound.

“I don’t think he really sets limits on himself. I think he just wants to continue to get better and work on his game adn go out there each and every night and be consistent and impact it,” said Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, who opened the scoring while playing in his 1,100th career game.

Certainly he wants to continue to be one of the best in the world and drive our team, and obviously make an impact with the way he can play the game,” Tavares added. “Obviously, he’s able to score a lot of goals, but his play in all three zones away from the puck with the puck is just exceptional. He’s just the total package.”

Matthews shifted his focus on the win, which inched the Maple Leafs within three points of clinching a playoff spot, and the importance of the final two-plus weeks of the season.

“Obviously, you want to be heading into April trying to feel confident and play your best hockey,” Matthews said. “An important week for us coming up here. It’ll be nice to enjoy this one and come get the focus on what’s to come.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Reddick wins in Talladega after McDowell crashes

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Reddick wins in Talladega after McDowell crashes

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Tyler Reddick stole a NASCAR Cup victory at Talladega Superspeedway when front-runner Michael McDowell, swerving up and down the track trying to block Brad Keselowski, wound up crashing with the finish line in sight Sunday.

It was another wild Talladega finish — and set off a raucous celebration on pit road with one of Reddick’s team owners, Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

“This is like an NBA playoff game,” Jordan said in Victory Lane. “I’m so ecstatic.”

McDowell, the pole-sitter, dominated the closing laps and was in position to give Ford its much-needed first victory of the year. But his topsy-turvy efforts to block Keselowski — another Ford driver — wound up costing them both.

McDowell spun out, Keselowski had to check up and Reddick sped by to claim his sixth career Cup victory by 0.208 seconds.

A pile of cars behind them was taken out, as well. Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 machine slid across the finish line on its side, pinned against the wall in front the massive grandstands.

Reddick climbed out of his No. 45 car and scurried up the fence like Spider-Man.

“That was crazy, fans,” he screamed. “Chaos. Typical Talladega.”

Keselowski settled for the runner-up spot, failing again to pick up his first win since 2021 at this 2.66-mile trioval in east Alabama.

“We went to make a move and Michael covered it,” Keselowski said. “We went the other way and had nowhere to go when Michael came back down. It’s just the way this stuff goes.”

Reddick’s victory redeemed a botched strategy that knocked out a bunch of Toyota contenders, including his team co-owner, Denny Hamlin.

All three Toyota teams pitted in tandem with 37 laps to go, going with a strategy that would’ve allowed them to push the pace on the rest of the fuel-saving field — with an idea of drafting all the way to the front for the checkered flag.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep their cars straight.

Just four laps later, with the Toyota train running at a blistering, single-file pace and chasing down the lead pack, John Hunter Nemechek appeared to get into the bumper of Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 machine, which clipped Erik Jones and sent him smashing hard into the outside wall.

Nemechek then slid down the track and took out Hamlin, as well.

“We had a plan,” Wallace said. “We just didn’t execute it as well as we should have. I hate it. It doesn’t make us look good at all.”

Jones took the brunt of the blow, a crash that would’ve been much worse without the sturdy cars and foamy barriers.

“I’m a little sore, but I’m all right,” Jones said after exiting the infield care center. “If you’re gonna be dumb, you’ve got to be tough.”

Reddick was at the front of the pack and avoided the crash.

In the end, he was able to celebrate an improbable win.

CLEAN RACING: Unlike the wacky finish, the first two stages were caution-free — the first time that’s happened at Talladega since the stage system was instituted in 2017. Many drivers were focused on saving fuel and there weren’t many bold moves.

Finally, on lap 132, with the cars three-wide and tightly bunched in the middle of a huge train, the first occurred.

Justin Haley got a bump from behind and went spinning into Christopher Bell, whose car sustained heavy damage that left him with a last-place finish.

IMPRESSIVE KIWI: Shane Van Gisbergen turned in a strong run in the first oval race of his burgeoning NASCAR Cup career.

The stunning winner of the Chicago street race in his Cup debut last summer, Van Gisbergen showed the depth of his talent by leading laps and staying out of trouble at the harrowing 2.66-mile trioval until the very end.

Unfortunately for the 34-year-old from New Zealand, he got caught up in the final melee and didn’t make it across the line. He finished 27th.

STARTING AT THE BACK: Season points leader Kyle Larson started the race with a huge disadvantage after his team was penalized for altering the roof rails on his No. 5 car on the way to the qualifying line Saturday.

Larson, who had won three straight poles, was barred from qualifying, forced to start from the back of the field and ordered to do a drive-through penalty on the opening lap. He was least a half-lap behind the field by the time he got up to speed and, without anyone to draft with, was caught by the leaders on the 12th lap.

NASCAR also ejected Larson’s car chief, Jesse Saunders, from the speedway.

Larson was able to work his way back into the mix but he wasn’t a contender at the end. He finished 20th.

UP NEXT: The Cup series heads next Sunday to Dover Motor Speedway, where Martin Truex Jr. won the race a year ago.

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Love, 19, claims first Xfinity win in Talladega

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Love, 19, claims first Xfinity win in Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Nineteen-year-old rookie Jesse Love won the first NASCAR Xfinity Series of his career in a crash-marred, double-overtime finish at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday.

Love held off Brennan Poole, who pulled alongside roaring into the trioval, and took the checkered flag 0.141 seconds ahead of Riley Herbst. Anthony Alfredo and Leland Honeyman claimed the next two spots, Poole faded to fifth and one last crash sent Joey Gase spinning behind the frontrunners.

“Let’s go playoff racing!” Love screamed over the radio.

Hailie Deegan went into the final restart with a shot at becoming the highest-finishing woman in Xfinity Series history, but she slipped all the way to 12th. Danica Patrick retains the distinction with a fourth-place showing at Las Vegas in 2011.

Pole-sitter Austin Hill — Love’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing — won the first stage, led a race-high 41 laps and was at the front of an 18-car train with two laps to go when the usual Talladega chaos erupted.

Parker Kligerman appeared to give Hill a couple of slight taps to the rear bumper, though Kligerman insisted over his radio that he never touched the leader’s car. Nevertheless, Hill suddenly went into a spin that ended his hopes of his third victory of the season and sent the race to overtime.

Kligerman was out front when the green flag waved, but that didn’t last long. Shane Van Gisbergen appeared to run out of gas and Love got into Kligerman going for lead, sending the the No. 48 car smashing into the wall.

Several other contenders had to duck into the pits for fuel before the second overtime, which extended the race from 113 to 124 laps.

In the end, Love had enough fuel to get to the line, erasing memories of another strong run at Atlanta where he went dry at the end.

Chandler Smith comes in as points leader, but finished 25th.

Early in the final stage, the first big crash of the day collected at least a dozen cars, knocking four of them out of the race.

Kligerman and Ryan Sieg sparked the incident on lap 65, trading paint when both went for an opening in the middle of the track during three-wide racing through the trioval. That slight bump set off a chain-reaction crash that left cars spinning, sliding and smashing into each other from the outer wall to the inside grass.

“You have to be aggressive,” said Brandon Jones, whose car was too damaged to continue. “The only way be aggressive is to get up front.”

The day also ended for Sam Mayer, Jeremy Clements and Ryan Truex, while several cars returned to the track with significant damage. A.J. Allmendinger kept going with with his rear bumper cover barely hanging on.

Mayer has failed to finish four of the first nine races, but he’s locked into the playoff after winning last week at Texas in a photo finish with Sieg.

Teenagers won both preliminary races at Talladega leading up to the NASCAR Cup race on Sunday.

Before Love took the checkered flag, 18-year-old Jake Finch led from start to finish in the ARCA Menards Series event.

Justin Allgaier, who came into Talladega ranked fourth in the point standings, was the first one out of the race.

His No. 7 Chevrolet got loose coming off of turn two while running in a big pack of cars, sliding sideways off the track and smashing hard into an inside wall.

Allgaier wasn’t injured, but the 38th-place finish was by far his worst of the season.

“A disappointing day,” he said. “The car was fast.”

Allgaier remained tied with Kyle Busch for the most top-10 finishes in Xfinity Series history with 266. He equaled the mark last week with a third-place showing at Texas.

It was a tough day for JR Motorsports, which had three of its four drivers — Allgaier, Mayer and Jones — wiped out by crashes. Sammy Smith was the only one to make it to the checkered flag in 21st.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Ohtani breaks mark for HRs by Japan-born player

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Ohtani breaks mark for HRs by Japan-born player

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani has broken Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers hit by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball.

Ohtani crushed a two-run homer deep into the right-field bleachers off Adrian Houser of the New York Mets in the third inning of L.A.’s 10-0 win Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The homer was the 176th of Ohtani’s six-plus seasons in the majors. That’s one more than Matsui, who played the final 10 seasons of his 20-year pro career in North America.

Ohtani’s record-breaking blast traveled 423 feet with a 110 mph exit velocity, and it put the Dodgers up 2-0. Ohtani hadn’t homered in his previous seven games.

The homer was his fifth of the season for the Dodgers, who signed the two-time American League MVP to a $700 million contract this past winter. Ohtani hit 171 homers in six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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