Auston Matthews scores 39th goal to break record for U.S. rookies

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored his 39th goal of the season to set the record for goals by an American-born rookie.

Matthews set the mark by scoring 5:01 into the first period to put Toronto up 2-0 over the Buffalo Sabres en route to a 4-2 victory Monday.

Following the game, Matthews was more focused on the team closing in on a playoff spot than his own place in American hockey history.

"I play with some pretty great players, so a lot of credit to them," Matthews said. "But I think the most important part is that, as a team, we have been getting better each game, each segment, so we are in a good spot right now and just need to continue to play well."

Toronto head coach Mike Babcock appreciates Matthews' team-oriented mentality.

"He's a mature young man who wants to be great and you are measured in championships in this league," Babcock said.

The Scottsdale, Arizona, native scored in his 78th game to surpass the record set by Neal Broten, who scored 38 goals in 73 games for the Minnesota North Stars in 1981-82.

The goal was Matthews' 67th point of the season and broke the franchise rookie record set by Peter Ihnacak in 1982-83.

The milestone game for the 19-year-old Matthews took place in the same arena in which the Maple Leafs selected him with the No. 1 pick in the draft in June.

Matthews became the first No. 1 overall pick to score at least 39 goals as rookie since Alex Ovechkin (52) and Sidney Crosby (39) both did it in the 2005-06 season. Ovechkin was drafted in 2004, but a season-long lockout prevented him from playing until the 2005-06 season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.