Two games, six goals. It’s quite the start for Auston Matthews.
The Toronto Maple Leafs superstar became the fifth player in NHL history to open the season with back-to-back hat tricks and only the second to do it since 1917-18. Alex Ovechkin accomplished the feat in 2017-18. Before him, Cy Denneny, Reg Noble, and Joe Malone all did it in 1917-18.
Matthews completed the achievement Saturday with a three-goal game against the Minnesota Wild. His first three came versus the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
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“You don’t expect back-to-back hat tricks, of course,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said after Toronto’s 7-4 victory. “But I’ve gotten somewhat comfortable and used to Auston having big nights and making a big impact. You do so on back-to-back nights to start a season, it’s terrific.”
A two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner, Matthews led the league with 41 goals in 52 games in 2020-21 and 60 in 73 contests in 2021-22. He’s coming off a down year by his standards, producing 40 goals and 45 assists in 74 games last season while playing through a wrist injury. He appears poised for a bounce-back campaign, though.
“Wow, I think he’s been incredible,” William Nylander, who bagged two goals Saturday, said. “Taking pucks to the net, scoring all kinds of goals. He’s been dialled in.”
Defenseman Morgan Rielly, who had a pair of assists in the game, agrees.
“He’s going to do a lot of damage on a lot of records, a lot of Leafs records,” Rielly said.
Matthews owns the Leafs’ single-season goal record, and the 26-year-old is already fifth on the franchise’s all-time goals list. With a new contract that’ll keep him in Toronto through 2027-28, he could pass Mats Sundin’s record within the next few seasons. Here’s a look at the club’s all-time goals list:
Matthews will go for his third straight hat trick (the hat trick, hat trick?) Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
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