Though it was subtle and unspectacular, Auston Matthews made some significant Maple Leafs franchise history on Tuesday night.
With a secondary assist on William Nylander's 22nd goal of the season versus the Blues, Matthews became the fastest Maple Leafs player ever to reach 500 points, doing so in just 445 career games and accomplishing the feat a whopping 50 games quicker than franchise legends Mats Sundin and Rick Vaive.
Fastest player in Maple Leafs history to 500 points pic.twitter.com/2O7c62GNBX
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 4, 2023
Matthews' milestone moment, his 25th assist and 43rd point of the season, came via a fortunate bounce off his skate which eventually somehow found Michael Bunting, who teed up Nylander to bring the Leafs within one.
Matthews' historic assist also put him in exclusive company among his contemporaries, as he became the fifth-fastest active player to notch 500 points, joining Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid (369 games), Alex Ovechkin (373 games), and Evgeni Malkin (413 games) as the only active players to hit the 500-mark in less than 500 games. Teammate Mitch Marner — who sat at 497 career points in 464 games entering Tuesday's contest with the Blues — will almost certainly become the next entry into that exclusive club.
Matthews acknowledged the significance of the milestone after the contest.
"I think there's definitely some special meaning behind it with the history of this organization and the players that have come and worn this jersey before us," Matthews said. "I've been fortunate every year to play with some great players and have a great team around us. So it definitely means a lot."
The Maple Leafs sniper grabbed point No. 501 in much more Matthews-esque fashion later in the second frame, corralling a rolling puck and ripping one over the shoulder of Blues goalie Jordan Binnington for his 19th goal of the season to pull the Leafs within one. The Leafs were down by two goals four different times in this one before fighting back to earn a point in a wild affair.
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