Auston Matthews started the 2023-24 NHL season off with a bang, scoring back-to-back hat tricks in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first two games of the season. Matthews is the first NHL player to start a season with back-to-back hat tricks since Alex Ovechkin in the 2017-18 season.
The Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens on Opening Night and the Minnesota Wild in their second game of the season. Matthews scored three of his team’s six goals against the Canadiens and three of seven goals against the Wild.
Auston Matthews is off to a hot start with back-to-back hat tricks
Matthews now has nine career hat tricks. According to NHL Public Relations via X (formerly known as Twitter), Matthews is one of just five NHL players ever to record a hat trick in each of his first two games of a season. The other four players to have done so are Alex Ovechkin (2017-18), Cy Denneny (1917-18), Joe Malone (1917-18) and Reg Noble (1917-18). Matthews is also the first Maple Leaf to complete consecutive hat tricks since Wendel Clark (1993-94).
This rare feat is a great sign that Matthews is going to have an elite season. In seven NHL seasons, Matthews has scored 40+ goals five times. In the 2021-22 season, he scored a staggering 60 goals. He won the NHL’s Hart Trophy that season.
In the 2022-23 season, Matthews scored 40 goals. As crazy as it sounds, 40 goals felt like a letdown compared to the previous season. If Matthews stays at the top of his game, his offensive numbers can match his elite 2021-22 season.
Many believe that Matthews can return to the form of a 60-goal scorer in 2023-24. If his first two games are any indication, he’s capable of it. NHL Network ranked Matthews seventh on a list of the Top 50 NHL players.
Certainly, Matthews won’t be able to score three goals every game, but his team has gotten used to seeing him put on a show. Having him as their top center gives the Leafs confidence that they can win big games.
The Leafs are expected to compete for the top spot in the Atlantic Division this season. They’re among the teams considered Stanley Cup contenders. Their next game is Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.