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Matthews scores 50th, 51st goals in hometown return to help Maple Leafs beat Coyotes

Auston Matthews Mitchell Marner Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner - The Canadian Press

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Auston Matthews scored his 50th and 51st goals of the season in his hometown to become 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 scored off a rebound in the second period to make it 4-2. The 26-year-old center from nearby Scottsdale has nine goals in his last four games and 350 in his career in 535 games.

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

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.

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.


Toronto: At Vegas on Thursday night.

Arizona: At Winnipeg on Sunday.