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Matthews scores 2 goals against Coyotes to hit 51 for the season

Toronto Maple Leafs centre 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. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Toronto centre Auston Matthews has scored his 50th and 51st goal of the season in 54 games in the Maple Leafs' NHL 6-3 win over Arizona.

Matthews beat Coyotes netminder Karel Vejmelka glove side with a wrist shot with the Leafs on a power play at 5:01 of the first period. Timothy Liljegren and Mitch Marner had assists on the goal.

"It's great, it's a small step in a long season," he said after the win over the Coyotes.

The goal came as the Leafs led the Coyotes 1-0 courtesy of an opener from Bobby McMann.

He doubled that up in the second period during a four-on-four.

This is Matthews' fourth straight game with at least a goal, and he has 12 points in five games.

Matthews paid tribute to his linemates for their help in crossing the 50-goal mark.

"We've got a great sense for each other," Matthews said about the assist from Marner. "We try to push ourselves, each other the best we can be individually."

Matthews has cracked the 50-goal mark in the regular season once before as a Maple Leaf, back in 2021-22 when he finished with 60 goals along with 46 assists.

With the first goal, Matthews became the fastest U.S.-born player to score 50 goals in a season and shattered the previous mark by eight games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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