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Matthews makes NHL history as the Maple Leafs defeat the Coyotes 6-3

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Photo credit:Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
After opening their four-game road trip on Monday afternoon with another impressive win over the St. Louis Blues, 4-2, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their travels into Arizona last night to take on a Coyotes team they’ve had problems with over the previous years.

First period:

Entering last night’s game, Toronto had lost four consecutive games to Arizona. So, wanting to flip the script, along with trying to see Auston Matthews score goal number 50, most likely had the team extra motivated entering play.
It was evident that from the drop of the puck, Toronto was all over Arizona. As mentioned above, the slump against the Coyotes and Matthews chasing 50 goals kept them a little extra motivated. But if you watched the game, you could see the hundreds, if not low thousands, of Maple Leafs fans in the crowd at Mullett Arena cheering on the road team, and it gave Toronto some juice early on.
It didn’t take long for Toronto to get on the scoreboard. Not even two minutes into the period, TJ Brodie received a pass from Timothy Liljegren and fired a shot toward the net. Bobby McMann, arguably the hottest goal scorer on the team outside of Auston Matthews, scored his ninth of the season after redirecting the puck past Karel Vejmelka.
With Toronto up 1-0 early on, they kept their foot on the gas, looking to build on their early lead. Luckily for them, the Coyotes took a penalty, sending Matthews and the top unit over the boards.
It almost took the entirety of the two minutes, but the man chasing 50 goals scored his 50th goal of the season in his backyard, as Chris Cuthbert said on the call, giving Toronto the 2-0 lead.
Toronto continued to dominate Arizona in this one. Up 2-0, they continued to generate zone time, shot attempts, and shots. Vejmelka was working his tail off for his team, trying to keep the puck out, and for the most part, did a solid job. However, the parade to the penalty box continued for the home team, and Toronto had another opportunity to score another goal.
With an extended 5-on-3 power play, that’s what they did. Mitch Marner, who took a high stick to the face, drawing blood, set up William Nylander for his 30th goal of the season, extending their lead to three goals with roughly five minutes left to play in the period.
It didn’t get better for the Coyotes, mainly for Vejmelka, because with just under two minutes to go, Michael Kesselring was sent to the box for high-sticking Max Domi, sending Toronto to their fifth power play. They couldn’t get another past Vejmelka before the period ended, but Toronto continued to pepper the home goalie.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 3-0 and outshot Arizona 16-6.

Second period:

After Toronto was awarded a handful of power plays due to the undisciplined Coyotes in the first period, it was the Maple Leafs’ turn to take a penalty. John Tavares was whistled for high-sticking Sean Durzi, sending Arizona to their first power play. Luckily for their penalty kill unit, they didn’t allow them to score, but once Tavares returned to the ice, Matias Maccelli beat Ilya Samsonov, cutting into their deficit.
The power play tally went straight to the Coyotes’ legs, and they went right back at the Maple Leafs the next couple of shifts. Unfortunately, they struck again. Former Maple Leaf Alex Kerfoot spun and fired a point shot toward the net, and Barrett Hayton tipped home his third of the season, cutting Toronto’s lead in half roughly six minutes into the middle frame.
Sheldon Keefe called timeout after allowing two quick goals, and his team slowly settled back into the game. They weren’t perfect, and the first 20 minutes were better than the middle frame, but they settled things down after a hot start for Arizona.
Both sides traded scoring chances, and the next goal in the game came from Auston Matthews because, of course. With roughly four minutes to go, Mitch Marner pulled off a sweet between-the-legs pass to TJ Brodie, but unfortunately, Brodie couldn’t put the puck in the net, and it eventually made its way back to Marner. He threw it back toward the net, and it took a bounce off Josh Brown, then Auston Matthews, and found its way past Vejmelka for his 51st goal of the season.
Now that Toronto had retaken a two-goal lead, they needed to play the remaining minutes smart. They couldn’t allow Arizona to get back in it before heading into the final period.
However, Toronto’s parade to the penalty box continued when Pontus Holmberg took an offensive zone tripping penalty, sending the Coyotes to another power play. They almost killed it, but with the period coming to a close, Nylander tripped Durzi in the neutral zone, and the Coyotes entered the offensive zone and scored with seconds remaining on the Holmberg penalty.
Toronto entered the third period up 4-3, outshooting Arizona 29-20.

Third period:

After a dominant first period from the Maple Leafs, the Coyotes stormed back in the middle period and made this one a game. A 3-0 Toronto lead had now turned into a 4-3 lead heading into the final period of regulation, on the road, and against a team they’d lost four straight games to.
The Maple Leafs needed to keep it simple in the last period if they wanted to walk out of Mullett Arena with the two points and improve to 5-0-0 without Morgan Rielly.
Luckily, the penalty Nylander took at the end of the second period was successfully killed off, and as he came out of the box, a TJ Brodie clearing attempt found him streaking for a breakaway. He did not miss from in close, as he sniped his 31st of the season – second of the game – to restore their multi-goal lead.
With Toronto back up by two goals, Arizona started to cheat for offence as they were desperately looking for a fourth goal. However, their aggressiveness started to cost them, as Toronto had numerous odd-man rushes during this period.
Pontus Holmberg and Noah Gregor were sprung on a 2-on-0 just before the midway point of the period, but Holmberg couldn’t finish past Vejmelka. Not even two minutes later, John Tavares and Bobby McMann were in on a 2-on-1, and the captain did not miss that one, sniping his 16th of the season past the netminder.
The Coyotes continued to make a push in the remaining ten minutes of the period, looking to chip into another three-goal deficit, but Ilya Samsonov was up to the task, turning aside all six shots he faced, extending Toronto’s winning streak to five games, and picking up their 10th win in their last 13 games.

Who stood out:

Well, it’s easy to say the guy who scored his 50th and 51st goal in his 54th game of the season stood out. But it’s true. Auston Matthews has been doing absurd things this season, and his case to win the 2024 Hart Trophy is only growing stronger. If you were to ask hockey fans who watch the NHL daily, they’d likely say Matthews is the best goal-scorer in the league, and rightfully so, but he has taken goal-scoring this year to a whole other level.
Matthews scored 60 goals in 73 games during his MVP season in 2021-22 and followed that up with a measly 40 goals in 74 games in a down year. But this season, 51 goals in 54 games is something the NHL hasn’t seen in decades. With yesterday’s performance, the 26-year-old became the fastest American-born player to score 50 goals in a season, the fastest active player to achieve that feat, and the fastest player since Mario Lemieux, who scored 50 in 50 in 1995-96.
Almost lost in all of this goal-scoring from Matthews, Mitch Marner extended his point streak to eight games last night with another three-point effort. During this eight-game point streak, Marner has collected 15 points (two goals and 13 assists), including three three-assist nights in his last four games, improving his season point totals to 68 points in 54 games, good enough for T14th in league scoring.
A handful of other players had good nights on the scorehseet for Toronto last night. William Nylander extended his goal streak to five games with a two-goal outing, John Tavares and Bobby McMann picked up two points each, and the duo of TJ Brodie and Timothy Liljegren continued to produce on both ends of the ice.
Both defensemen registered two assists each, giving them a combined 11 points in the five games without Morgan Rielly, and although last night wasn’t their best 5-on-5 game defending, according to Moneypuck.com, they’ve been a treat to watch as of late.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game tonight when they travel to Vegas to close out their back-to-back against the Golden Knights for their first meeting this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 10:00 pm ET/7:00 pm PT.
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