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Maple Leafs' Matthews scores 50th goal in 54th game, fastest to mark in 28 years

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 the mark in 28 years at 54 games.

The fastest U.S. born player to reach 50, Matthews scored the milestone goal on a power play at 5:01 of the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

From nearby Scottsdale, Matthews scored on a shot from the circle to the left of goaltender Karel Vejmelka to make it 2-0. Mitchell Marner and Timothy Liljegren assisted on the goal that came with Michael Carcone in the penalty box for slashing.

Matthews added his 51st — giving him 350 career goals in 535 games — late in the second period for a 4-2 lead.

Matthews is the fastest to 50 since Mario Lemieux since it for Pittsburgh in 50 games in 1995-96. Wayne Gretzky hold the record, scoring his 50th in his 39th game for Edmonton in 1981-82 on his way to a record 92 goals.

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.

___ AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

Jack Thompson, The Associated Press