Despite not having their best game, the Toronto Maple Leafs came out on top of their season opener against the Montreal Canadiens with a shootout victory Wednesday night.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans were treated to an incredible start to the season by two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews as he notched his first hattrick in just over 18 months, which included a pair of goals with the Toronto net empty to come back and tie the game late.
Matthews has typically been known as a hot starter as he scored a combined nine goals over his first four opening games, however he had failed to registered a goal in the the three previous opening nights.
His dry spell included both years that he would ultimately win the Goal Scoring races in 2021-22 and 2020-21. With three goals last night, the Arizona product is well ahead of his scoring pace from recent seasons.
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At the start of the first season he won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2020-21, Matthews did not score his first goal until the third game of the year and it was not until the sixth game of the season that he registered his third goal.
In the year he repeated as the league’s best goal scorer, that not only saw Matthews retain the goal scoring trophy, he also won the Ted Lindsay and Hart trophies thanks to him notching 60 goals and 106 points. That year, not only did he not score his first goal until the fourth game of the season, that goal was his first point of the year. Further to that, It took Matthews seven games to score his third goal of the year.
Prior to this season, many people felt if Matthews was healthy 50-goals was the safe bet on goals by the big center and he would likely finish north of 60. With just one game down and three goals already notched, the excitement to what he could do this year only grows.
Other fanbases will get annoyed by the Matthews goal talk: can he pass Ovechkin’s career best 65-goal season? can he reach 70? can he score 50 in 50? Will he win another Rocket Richard trophy?
The first milestone should be seeing if he can score ten goals in ten games, a feat he has done just once over his career. In his third season, the former Calder Trophy winner started the season with a six game goal scoring streak, which included four multi-goal games that got him ten goals in those six games.
This was quite the opposite from his 60-goal season when it took him 20 games to register ten goals.
The maturity, health and experience that Matthews has gone into the season should make for an entertaining year.