TORONTO – Auston Matthews registered his second hat trick in as many games to open the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Minnesota Wild 7-4 on Saturday.
William Nylander added two goals and an assist, Calle Jarnkrok had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Bertuzzi also scored for Toronto, which got 28 saves from Ilya Samsonov.
Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly added two assists each.
Matthews is the fifth player in NHL history to open a season with back-to-back hat tricks, joining Alex Ovechkin (2017-18), Cy Denneny (1917-18), Joe Malone (1917-18) and Reg Noble (1917-18).
Matt Boldy, Ryan Hartman, Marco Rossi and Brandon Duhaime replied for Minnesota. Jake Middleton and Connor Dewar both had two assists. Filip Gustavsson stopped 26 shots.
Toronto, which picked up a 6-5 shootout victory over Montreal in its season-opener Wednesday, fell behind at 9:32 of the first period when Hartman tipped a shot past Samsonov.
Matthews then started to take over.
The Leafs centre, who won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2021-22 thanks to a 60-goal performance before finding the back of the next 40 times last season while dealing with a couple of injuries, fired past Gustavsson just 1:22 later.
Coming off the eighth hat trick of his career in the opener, Matthews made it 2-1 at 12:35 on a 4-on-3 power play when his shot from a sharp angle went in off a Minnesota stick for his fifth goal in four periods.
Nylander then brought the Scotiabank Arena back out of its seats on a breathtaking individual effort late in the period when he stepped past a couple of defenders and slotted home his second.
Gustavsson, who made 41 saves in a 2-0 shutout over Florida in Minnesota’s curtain-raiser Thursday, allowed Toronto’s fourth of the night when Bertuzzi scored his first with the Leafs on another power play at 3:35 of the second for a 4-1 lead.
But the Wild got back within two 34 seconds later when Boldy beat Samsonov on a shot the netminder will want back, and Rossi batted in his first NHL goal at 9:51 to make it 4-3 through 40 minutes.
Samsonov made a terrific save to deny Rossi his second early in the third and Gustavsson denied Matthews on a power play at the other end.
The Leafs went back up by two at 9:54 when Jarnkrok finished off a great pass from Rielly before Matthews completed the ninth hat trick of his career — and second on a wraparound 19 seconds later.
Nylander then added his second of the night and third overall off the rush at 12:15.
Duhaime got a consolation goal late in regulation on another night that belonged to Matthews.
REAVO ANSWERS BELL
Toronto winger Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves with Minnesota forward Marcus Foligno in the first period after laying out Frederick Gaudreau with a clean hit in the first period.
The Leafs tough guy, who played 61 games with the Wild last season, also fought Montreal defenceman Arber Xhekaj on Wednesday.
GUS THE BUS
Saturday’s performance aside, Wild hit a home run when they traded disgruntled goaltender Cam Talbot to Ottawa for Gustavsson in July 2022.
The 25-year-old Swede went 22-9-7 with a .931 save percentage and 2.10 goal-against average last season, while Talbot, 36, was limited by injury before signing with Los Angeles in free agency this summer.
“Fits in with what we’re trying to do as an organization,” Minnesota head coach Dean Evason said of Gustavsson before the game. “Good people and working hard and playing the game the right way.”
Leafs rookie Matthew Knies faced Wild counterpart and University of Minnesota teammate Brock Faber for the first time in the NHL.
“One of my best friends,” Knies said. “Great role model, love to learn from that guy. It’s pretty cool that I get to play against him now on such a stage.”
Leafs: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
Wild: Visit the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2023.
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