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Matthews: Racing Ovechkin for scoring title a 'humbling' experience

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

The 2020 Maurice "Rocket" Richard race was gearing up for one of the best finishes in recent memory before the coronavirus pandemic forced the NHL to postpone its season.

Alex Ovechkin, David Pastrnak, and Auston Matthews were in an intense battle at the top. Even Leon Draisaitl and Mika Zibanejad weren't completely out of it.

Player Team GP G
Alex Ovechkin WSH 68 48
David Pastrnak BOS 70 48
Auston Matthews TOR 70 47
Leon Draisaitl EDM 71 43
Mika Zibanejad NYR 57 41

With five goals in as many games before play halted, Ovechkin was sparring with Pastrnak for the overall lead. Matthews, meanwhile, was hot on their tails with four tallies in six contests prior to the hiatus.

Matthews spoke about racing against a legendary goal-scorer like Ovechkin during a video conference call Thursday.

"It's pretty cool and humbling to be in the same conversation as a guy like (Ovechkin)," Matthews said, according to TSN's Kristen Shilton. "Being in a scoring race with a guy like him, he's been a generational player and he's made a big impact beyond the game and led the way for lots of players and lots of guys.

"It's humbling, and hopefully, we can get back to playing hockey and can compete again, that's what everyone wants to do."

The Great Eight sits eighth on the all-time goals list and has won eight "Rocket" Richard trophies, including six in the last seven years. Matthews is still seeking his first, but it'll be tough to capture as long as Ovi is blasting one-timers from his office at the left circle.

Though he knows it's unfortunate fans may not get to see this year's race play out, Matthews acknowledged there are more important things at stake.

"It's obviously frustrating and disappointing to see the season go on pause," he said. "But when you think about those kinds of achievements and accomplishments, being close to scoring 50 goals and stuff like that, it all kind of becomes irrelevant when you're talking about human lives and what's been going on around the world."

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