As losing streak mounts, Coyotes watch Arizona native Auston Matthews thrive

Stuck in a downward spiral, goaltender Karel Vejmelka and the Arizona Coyotes seek to snap an 11-game losing streak Sunday. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)

TEMPE – The Arizona Coyotes dropped an 11th straight game Wednesday to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but making matters worse at Mullett Arena, the home team finished the game on the wrong side of history.

In a sea of blue and white, the Coyotes were heavily overshadowed by the electricity provided by Leafs forward and Arizona native Auston Matthews, who netted his 50th goal of the season to aid in delivering Arizona a 6-3 defeat.

Matthews became the fastest American-born player to reach 50 goals in a season, hitting the milestone in 54 games. He is on pace to score 76 goals this season, which would make this the 15th season with at least 70 goals scored by a player.

After the first period, Mattews reflected on how his achievement might impact young hockey players in Arizona.

“I hope it’s something that they can take and maybe be inspired by, encouraged by,” Matthews said before eventually crediting his family for his success. “Like I said this morning, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you dream hard enough, work hard enough, you can make those dreams come true. …

“There‘s too many people to name, obviously my sisters play a big part in everything too. It’s just special to play at home.”

The Coyotes found the short end of the stick with another loss despite their young talent finding the scoreboard. Matias Maccelli scored his ninth goal of the season, his sixth at Mullett Arena this year. He is two goals shy of matching his career-high 11 goals in a season (2022-23). Dylan Guenther and Barrett Hayton also tallied goals in the second period.

The Coyotes have lost 13 of their last 15 games, and join the San Jose Sharks as the only other team to be winless through 11 games this season, one loss shy of tying the longest streak set by the Sharks. The team’s current 11-game skid is tied as the third longest in franchise history behind the largest winless streak in NHL history, in 1980-81, by the Winnipeg Jets.

The Coyotes’ next opportunity to return to the win column is Sunday against the Jets. Following Thursday’s practice, the young forwards channeled the team’s current mentality entering the contest.

“I think there are lots of different ways you can learn, and it’s not just winning. Obviously we want to win every game, and compete in every game, but I think the adversity helps you down the road,” Guenther said. “I’ve played on winning teams and championship teams before and it’s never just smooth sailing. It’s always good. There are always times when you have to kind of work through and I think that the growing pains help later on.”

Earlier this season, the Coyotes were on the cusp of a playoff spot in the wild-card standings. On a stretch in late December and early January, the Coyotes defeated the previous five Stanley Cup Champions in consecutive games in their hottest stretch of the season.

The Coyotes now sit second to last in the Central division and are 18 points out of a wild-card spot. In a season where rumors and distractions have swirled around the organization, the hope remains to get the train back on the rails and produce some positive momentum.

The upcoming road trip serves as an opportunity to achieve the first victory for the Coyotes in February and spark a glimpse of hope for the remainder of the season.

“I think it’s something that puts us in the position of desperation, something that we’ve got to learn from and really just dig in and come together as a group,” Hayton said. “Situations like this, really show what a group is made of, it’s a challenge we have to be all in on.”

Josh Jones(he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Josh Jones expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Jones has interned as a beat writer, tech director and producer at, Varsity Sports and PHNX.