Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with right...

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with right wing Mitchell Marner after scoring his 50th goal of the season, against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period ofan NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. Credit: AP/Rick Scuteri

TEMPE, Ariz. — Auston Matthews scored his 50th and 51st goals of the season in his hometown to break a tie as the fastest U.S.-born player to reach 50 and help the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the crumbling Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Wednesday night.

Matthews’ milestone goal came on a power play 5:01 into the game, his 54th game of the season — making him the fastest player to score 50 in a season since Mario Lemieux did it in 50 games in 1995-96. Wayne Gretzky holds the record, scoring his 50th in his 39th game for Edmonton in 1981-82. Matthews shared the previous U.S.-born mark with Kevin Stevens at 62 games.

Matthews scored off a rebound in the second period to make it 4-2 at Mullett Arena. The 26-year-old center from nearby Scottsdale has nine goals in his last four games and 350 in his career in 535 games.

“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.

Mitch Marner and T.J. Brodie had three assists in the game, with Marner assisting on Matthews’ 50th goal.

“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 and the Maple Leafs sent the Coyotes to their 11th straight loss.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) is congratulated after...

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) is congratulated after scoring his 50th goal of the season, against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. Credit: AP/Rick Scuteri

William Nylander also scored twice for the Maple Leafs, who won their fifth in a row — all without forward Morgan Rielly, who was serving final game of a five-game suspension for cross-checking Ottawa’s Ridly Greig for showboating on an empty-net goal. Toronto is 9-0-2 in its last 11 games, and snapped a four-game losing streak against the Coyotes. The teams meet again Feb. 29 in Toronto.

Bobby McMann and John Tavares also scored for Toronto, and Mitch Marner and T.J. Brodie each had three assists. Ilya Samsonov stopped 23 shots.

Matias Maccelli, Barrett Hayton and Dylan Guenther scored for the Coyotes.

Arizona trailed 3-0 after the first period but rallied to get within a goal twice.

Arizona Coyotes left wing Matias Maccelli (63) shoots over Toronto...

Arizona Coyotes left wing Matias Maccelli (63) shoots over Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. Credit: AP/Rick Scuteri

“We had a good bounce back,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We were off in the beginning of the game. Discipline was the story of the first period.”

Guenther’s goal came late in the second period on a power play, getting Arizona to 4-3. The Coyotes began the third period on the power play with Nylander penalized for tripping, but Samsonov and the Maple Leafs killed the penalty and Nylander scored on a breakaway out of the penalty box for his 31st of the season, making it 5-3.

NEXT

Toronto: At Vegas on Thursday night.

Arizona: At Winnipeg on Sunday.

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months
ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME