Written Joel Petterson at New York Times
The N.H.L. started its regular season on Wednesday with a couple of big names set to miss their openers: Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins star, who is recovering from a concussion; and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, the No. 2 draft pick last year, who injured his ankle on Wednesday.
But the 19-year-old Auston Matthews made sure no one noticed.
On Wednesday, Matthews, selected No. 1 in this year’s draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, became the first player to score four goals in an N.H.L. debut — a feat he accomplished by the end of the second period in a game at Ottawa. The first three goals came on his first three shots as an N.H.L. player.
His first came 8 minutes 21 seconds into the game off a pass from Zach Hyman. He added another, unassisted, six minutes later, then helped the Maple Leafs to a one-goal lead at the end of second with two more in that period.
Somehow, the Maple Leafs still managed to lose, as the Senators’ Kyle Turris tied the score in the third period and again in the first minute of overtime to give Ottawa the win.
Matthews was just the fifth player to score three goals in an N.H.L. debut since the 1943-44 season, according to The Associated Press, and the first since the Rangers’ Derek Stepan did it in 2010.
“I couldn’t believe that was happening out there,” Matthews said after the game, according to the A.P.
The spectacular performance was met with near disbelief on social media (and on Wikipedia).
But those who have followed Matthews for the past several years were probably the least surprised by the sensational debut. Matthews grew up in the nontraditional hockey market of Arizona and was born just 15 months after the Coyotes moved to Arizona from Winnipeg.
He was born two days after the cutoff that would have made him eligible for the 2015 N.H.L. draft. As it became clear that professional hockey would be his goal, his family weighed the options and chose an unusual route for a young prospect: After high school, Matthews eschewed playing college hockey or joining a junior team, instead spending a year playing professionally for the Zurich Lions in Switzerland. The experience helped him grow as a player, he said — as well as in other areas (“The recycling here is intense,” he said in an interview with The New York Times last year.)
And in recent weeks, he earned a good share of the spotlight at the World Cup of Hockey as a member of Team North America, scoring two goals in three games as part of a line that included Connor McDavid, the 2015 No. 1 draft pick.
To continue reading this article, click here.