Toronto’s Auston Matthews Scores Twice, Up to 51 on the Year

On Wednesday night, Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews scored his 50th and 51st goals of the season to become the quickest NHL player to achieve the milestone in nearly three decades.

Taking to the ice for his 54th game of the season, Matthews netted a power play goal just 5:01 into the game against the Arizona Coyotes — his hometown team — at Mullett Arena. Adding to his gaudy tally, he later secured his 51st goal late in the second period. The Maple Leafs ultimately secured a 6-3 victory.

“It’s great. It’s a small step in the long season, but obviously coming to play at home and playing a team that has had our number for the last couple of seasons … it was a good win, a good effort, everybody contributed,” Matthews said. “I’ll take the two points and get back at it tomorrow.”

A Scottsdale native, the 26-year-old’s first goal came from a precise shot taken from the circle to the left of goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Later in the second period, Matthews capitalized on a rebound opportunity to notch his second goal of the game.

“We had a couple of power plays and were kind of able to snap it around. I just tried to get open, and [Marner has] 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.”

Mario Lemieux accomplished this feat in 50 games while playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1995-96 season. The fastest to reach 50 goals in NHL history remains Wayne Gretzky — he scored 50 goals in just 39 games with the Edmonton Oilers during the 1981-82 season, and he went on to set a record of 92 goals.

Matthews’ recent scoring spree has been impressive — with nine goals scored in his last four games, including back-to-back hat tricks before netting a single goal against St. Louis on Monday night. His tally of 15 multi-goal games through 55 team games places him in a tie for the fifth most in NHL history through this many games, marking the highest since Alexander Mogilny’s 17 multi-goal games through 55 team games during the 1992-93 season.

Two seasons ago, Matthews led the NHL with an impressive 60 goals — a feat not accomplished since Steven Stamkos tallied 60 in the 2011-12 season. The last players to surpass the 70-goal mark in a single season were Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny, who both achieved 76 goals in the 1992-93 season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Matthews is now on pace for 76 this season.