Auston Matthews scores twice as Toronto hands Arizona its 11th straight loss

Feb 21, 2024, 11:14 PM | Updated: Feb 22, 2024, 12:06 am

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) carries the puck in front of Arizona Coyotes defens...

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) carries the puck in front of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Michael Kesselring during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Auston Matthews scored his 50th and 51st goals of the season Wednesday night in the Toronto Maple Leafs star’s hometown return, breaking a tie as the fastest U.S.-born player to reach 50 goals at 54 games.

Matthews scored the milestone goal on a power play at 5:01 of the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

From nearby Scottsdale, Matthews scored on a shot from the circle to the left of goaltender Karel Vejmelka to make it 2-0. Mitchell Marner and Timothy Liljegren assisted on the goal that came with Michael Carcone in the penalty box for slashing.

“We had a couple of power plays and were kind of able to snap it around. I just tried to get open and (Marner’s) got the puck and he’s got a great sense of where I am on the ice and vice versa,” Matthews said. “We just try to push ourselves to be the best that we can be individually and the best teammates we can be.”

Matthews added his 51st — giving him 350 career goals in 535 games — late in the second period for a 4-2 lead en route to Toronto’s fifth straight victory.

“It’s a small step in a long season,” Matthews said. “Coming back home against a team that’s really had our number the past couple of seasons, it was just a good effort all around. It’s a great atmosphere, and it makes for a pretty fun game.

Matthews shared the previous U.S.-born mark with former Pittsburgh star Kevin Stevens at 62 games. Matthews is the fastest to 50 since Mario Lemieux since did it for Pittsburgh in 50 games in 1995-96. Wayne Gretzky holds the record, scoring his 50th in his 39th game for Edmonton in 1981-82 on his way to a record 92 goals.

Matthews has nine goals in his last four games, having two consecutive hat tricks before a single goal against St. Louis on Monday night. Florida’s Sam Reinhart is second in the NHL with 39 goals.

Matthews, who had 60 goals two seasons ago to lead the NHL, making him the first to reach that mark since Steven Stamkos had 60 in 2011-12. The last players to score 70 or more in a season were Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny, who each had 76 in 1992-93.

Up next

Coyotes: Begin a five-game road trip and play Winnipeg on Sunday.

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes right wing Clayton Keller...

Associated Press

Party or wake? Coyotes’ tenure in Arizona down to final game before move to Utah

The Arizona Coyotes dubbed Mullett Arena The Party Barn for its raucous, closed-quarters atmosphere. It's down to one last game.

12 minutes ago

Arizona Coyotes forward Alex Kerfoot (15) celebrates his goal with teammate defenseman Sean Durzi (...

Associated Press

Coyotes lead at each intermission, fall to Flames in barnburner

Dylan Guenther scored twice, and Josh Doan, Matias Maccelli and Alex Kerfoot each added their own as the Coyotes' young core played well.

3 days ago

The Arizona Coyotes...

Dan Bickley

Arizona Coyotes relocation not our fault, it’s on the owner and local politics

Arizona is a very good hockey market and Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo and local politicians should be blamed for their relocation.

4 days ago

Rendering of the Arizona Coyotes' Phoenix arena plan...

Arizona Sports

Coyotes owner still plans to bid on land in Phoenix earmarked for NHL arena

Despite the imminent sale and relocation of his team to Utah, the owner of the Arizona Coyotes still plans to bid on land in north Phoenix.

4 days ago

Arizona Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny was proud of his team's resiliency after two straight win...

Damon Allred

Arizona Coyotes’ Andre Tourigny impressed with team’s resiliency amid Utah relocation talks

Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny's squad showed up with two big wins over some of the NHL's best amid a firestorm of relocation talk.

5 days ago

Coyotes fans at Mullett Arena...

Arizona Sports

Arizona Coyotes fans react to reports of team relocating to Utah

Arizona Coyotes hockey fans both in and out of the desert gathered together to mourn as reports of the team relocating to Utah came out.

5 days ago

Auston Matthews scores twice as Toronto hands Arizona its 11th straight loss