ARLINGTON, Va. -- Auston Matthews has slowed recently in his chase of a 70-goal season, but Alex Ovechkin believes the Toronto Maple Leafs forward still has a chance and is rooting for him to accomplish the feat.

Matthews leads the NHL with 55 goals in 66 games, putting him on pace to finish the season with 67 heading into Toronto’s game against Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; MAX, TNT, SN, TVAS).

“It’s great,” said Ovechkin, the Capitals captain. “I’m happy for him. Hope he gets it, maybe 70. You never know. He’s a special player. It’s fun to watch.”

Even if Matthews doesn’t become the first player to score 70 goals in a season since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny each scored 76 during the 1992-93 season, the 26-year-old is on track to become the first to score 65 since Ovechkin hit his NHL-career high with 65 goals in 2007-08. After scoring 52 goals in his first 55 games this season, Matthews has cooled off some with three goals in his past 11 games.

However, as Ovechkin noted, “one game he can score four goals,” and be back on a 70-goal pace.

“So, I’m cheering for him,” Ovechkin said. “He’s a fun player to watch, and the fans are going to like when he’s going to get 70.”

Ovechkin knows something about goal-scoring; the 38-year-old is second in NHL history with 843 goals, 51 behind Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894. He shares the NHL record of nine 50-goal seasons with Gretzky and Mike Bossy and owns the NHL record for 40-goal seasons with 13.

After struggling with only eight goals in his first 43 games this season, Ovechkin has 13 goals in his past 21 games to reach 21 for the season and become the third player in League history to score at least 20 goals in 19 consecutive seasons, joining Brendan Shanahan (19) and Gordie Howe (22).

Ovechkin has scored the winning goal in each of past two games for Washington (33-25-9), which has won three in a row and is 10-4-1 in its past 15 games to climb within one point of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

“Pucks are going in the net for him,” Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “He’s done a really nice job on the power play. We’ve integrated some changes with him moving around a little more frequently. I think, too, post-All-Star break … he smells these are the most important games of the year. So, his competitiveness and what he’s doing inside of his game, his level of detail away from the puck, his leadership from the bench/locker room is almost more engaged and trying to get guys to do the right things and make winning plays.”

Carbery was an assistant with Toronto the previous two seasons before being hired by Washington, so he witnessed Matthews’ goal-scoring prowess up close when he scored 60 in 73 games in 2021-22. He sees a lot of the same qualities this season.

TOR@PHI: Matthews scores his 55th goal of the season

“He looks like he’s 100 percent heathy, ripping the puck,” Carbery said of Matthews. “I worked with him a lot on the power play, and his one-timer now over from that (right face-off) dot where (Edmonton Oilers forward) Leon Draisaitl hits it a lot looks as good as I’ve ever seen it in the years that I’ve spent with him. So, now he’s a threat over there as a one-timer, and he’s now again feeling like that 60-goal year where he’s stepping into areas off the rush and … he’s just pulling and snapping and it’s just coming off hot.

“Seventy is not out of reach for him.”

Ovechkin recalled that when he scored 65 goals in 2007-08 the Capitals needed to win their final seven games to get into the playoffs, so that helped him with his goal push. He scored seven goals in those final seven games.

“We were trying to fight for a spot in the playoffs, and the last month-and-a-half everybody played like playoff hockey,” he said. “Everybody was [focused] and everybody do their best. It was a pretty good ending.”

Wednesday will be the 17th time Ovechkin and Matthews play against each other. Matthews had 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in the first 16, including a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win in their one previous meeting this season at Washington on Oct. 24. Ovechkin had 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in the first 16 games, including the Capitals’ lone goal Oct. 24.

Ovechkin pointed out he likely won’t be matched head-to-head with Matthews on Wednesday. His main focus will be on helping Washington win again and move back into a playoff spot.

“Every game is like the biggest game for us,” he said. “You can see what’s happening in the standings. Sometimes some teams win, and some teams lose, and we just have to push ourselves. It doesn’t matter how different teams are going to play. We just have to get points however we can.”