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Matthews, Leafs Come to Town After Making History

Top overall pick in 2016 Draft became first to score four goals in NHL debut

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Reminded of what rookie Auston Matthews had accomplished in his first NHL game last week for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise just shook his head and shrugged. 

"A lot of guys go through their career without scoring four in a game," he said. "It's unheard of, special, great for the game."

It took Matthews all of 39 minutes, 57 seconds to accomplish that, when he scored his fourth goal of the game to give the Maple Leafs a 4-3 lead against the Ottawa Senators three seconds before the second period ended on Oct. 12.

Ottawa eventually tied the game in the third before winning in overtime, taking a bit of the luster off the statement opening game for the Scottsdale, Arizona native.

Matthews became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his first NHL game.

"We had practice, but we were watching, saw some highlights," said Wild forward Charlie Coyle. "Pretty impressive. You like to see that, unless you're on the other team. It's good for the League, guy's coming in, a guy with that much skill, puts on a show like that to start, good for him. You're happy for him and hopefully he emptied out his tank there and not [Thursday]."

Matthews, who turned 19 last month, scored his first goal at 8:21 of the first period to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. After consecutive Ottawa goals, Matthews was on the board again at 14:18 with perhaps his prettiest goal of the bundle, weaving through a pair of players at center before chipping the puck around two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson and beating the goaltender with a tight angle, short-side shot.

Matthews finished off the hat trick 1:25 into the second period then added one for good measure with three seconds left in the second period, finishing off a historic night.

"It's crazy," Coyle said. "One in your debut, that's awesome. Two, you can't really ask for more. Then you get the hat trick? I've been in this League four or five years and I haven't put up three goals before. For him to do that, then add another one on top, that's just showing off. But it's great for him doing that, you really admire that, just a pretty impressive performance."

While the Maple Leafs were in no danger of going out of style any time soon in the Toronto area, the fact that hockey's newest phenom resides in perhaps the NHL's most hockey-crazed market, certainly bodes well for the game and the League.

"It's always interesting to see young stars play really well," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said last week. "As long as it's not against our team."

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