TORONTO - Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 53rd goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped Arizona 4-2 on Thursday to hand the Coyotes their 14th straight loss.

Matthew Knies, with a goal and an assist, and Tyler Bertuzzi also scored for Toronto (34-17-8). Joseph Woll made 30 saves in his return from a long injury absence.

William Nylander added an empty netter to go along with two assists.

Alex Kerfoot and Logan Cooley replied for Arizona (23-31-5), which dropped to 0-12-2 since its last victory on Jan. 22.

Connor Ingram stopped 22 shots.

The Coyotes entered 10-0-2 over their 12 previous visits to Scotiabank Arena/Air Canada Centre, with Arizona's last regulation loss in Toronto coming all the way back on Oct. 17, 2002 - the day Knies was born in Phoenix.

The Leafs, who saw a seven-game win streak snapped with Tuesday's 6-2 home loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, opened the scoring at 13:04 of the first period off a vintage assist from Mitch Marner.

The Toronto winger intercepted Cooley's pass and moved in on a breakaway, but instead of shooting or making a move on Ingram, he fed the hard-charging Knies with a no-look, between-the-legs pass for the rookie to bury his 11th.

Once again forced to dress six left-shot defenceman with Timothy Liljegren (undisclosed injury) out for a second consecutive game, the Leafs lost veteran blueliner Mark Giordano earlier in the period when he crashed into the end boards on a rush chance.

Back in the lineup after missing 35 games with a high ankle sprain suffered Dec. 7, Woll didn't have much to do at the other end until he stretched to make a nice stop on Barrett Hayton, whose group was minus leading scorer Clayton Keller (undisclosed) for a second straight game.

Toronto forward Ryan Reaves then fought Liam O'Brien late in the period, with the Leafs tough guy scoring a takedown before pointing to his right biceps to roaring crowd approval.

Bertuzzi doubled the lead 65 seconds into the second when he tipped a William Lagesson point shot for his 12th - and fifth goal in the last three games.

Matthews, who had gone two straight games without scoring after finding the back of the net 10 time in his five previous contests, fired home his 53rd of the campaign at 13:12 off a Nylander setup.

Kerfoot, who played four seasons with Toronto from 2019 to 2023 and was making his return to Scotiabank Arena, got that one back at 14:39 when he scored his 10th on a short-handed breakaway off a turnover.

Cooley cut the deficit to 3-2 at 9:52 with his ninth after Coyotes defenceman Troy Stecher hit the post earlier in the period.

But Woll held the fort from there despite some nervy moments before Nylander iced it into the empty net with his 32nd.


Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, who picked up his 200th win Thursday, was fined US$25,000 by the NHL for “unprofessional conduct directed at the officials that resulted in a game misconduct” in the dying minutes of Tuesday's loss.


Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny was asked following Thursday's morning skate about the challenge of staying upbeat with his team struggling.

“There's millions and millions - if not billions - of people who want to be in our spot,” he said. “If that doesn't put a smile on your face when you show up at the rink, you're in the wrong business.”


Arizona is at Ottawa on Friday. Toronto hosts the New York Rangers on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.