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Matthews fastest to hit 50-goal milestone in 28 years

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews - The Canadian Press

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Auston Matthews scored his 50th goal of the season Wednesday night in the Toronto Maple Leafs star's hometown return, becoming the fastest NHL player to reach that mark in 28 years.

Playing his 54th game of the season, Matthews scored 5:01 into the game on a power play to give Toronto a 2-0 lead over the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. He added his 51st — giving him 350 career goals in 535 games — late in the second period for a 4-2 lead.

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

Mario Lemieux achieved the milestone in 50 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96. The fastest was Wayne Gretzky, who got his 50th in his 39th game for Edmonton in 1981-82 on his way to a record 92 goals. Matthews is the fastest to 50 among U.S.-born players.

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.