Big Win for Maple Leafs in Auston Matthews’ Return to Desert Home
Auston Matthews probably didn’t need the help, but Leafs coach Mike Babcock had an assignment for his team on Friday night just the same.
“We want him to walk out of here proud,” Babcock said of the team’s prized rookie and first overall pick. “It’s a big story for us. Here’s a special kid who is a big part of our franchise. The guys like him and he plays hard for us.”
Matthews didn’t score on his celebrated return to the desert Friday night, but he was in on his team’s first two goals in what in many ways was a big win for the Leafs.
“I didn’t have many nerves, I just wanted to come here in play,” Matthews said after the game. “(Getting the assist on the opening goal) just gives you the confidence going forward. To produce on the scoresheet helped get us going.”
For starters, the Leafs won back-to-back games for the first time this season, beating the 29th-place Coyotes 4-1 before a half-full Gila River Arena.