TORONTO (AP) — Auston Matthews registered his second hat trick in two games to open the season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Minnesota Wild 7-4 on Saturday night.
William Nylander had two goals and an assist for Toronto, and Ilya Samsonov made 28 saves. Calle Jarnkrok had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Bertuzzi also scored. Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each had two assists.
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).
“I want to play at the highest level that I can every night,” Matthews said. “I’m not really thinking in the past or thinking about years in the past. It’s all about today.
“Just trying to go out and put in my best effort and do what I can to help the team.”
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said it has been fun watching Matthews go to work.
“You don’t expect back-to-back hat tricks, of course, but I’ve gotten somewhat comfortable and used to Auston having big nights, making a big impact,” Keefe said.
“To do so back-to-back nights to start a season, it’s terrific.”
Matt Boldy, Ryan Hartman, Marco Rossi and Brandon Duhaime scored for Minnesota. Filip Gustavsson stopped 26 shots.
Toronto, which posted 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 center, who scored a career-high 60 goals when he was the NHL MVP for the 2021-22 season, fired past Gustavsson at 10:54.
Coming off his eighth career hat trick in the opener, Matthews made it 2-1 at 12:35 on a 4-on-3 power play. Matthews’ shot from a sharp angle went in off a Minnesota stick for his fifth goal in four periods.
“He’s feeling it,” Rielly said. “When your guy’s doing that and controlling the game, putting the puck in the net, it gives us a good chance to win.”
Nylander then sent a charge through the crowd with 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 victory against Florida on Thursday, allowed Toronto’s fourth of the night when Bertuzzi got his first with the Leafs on another power play at 3:35 of the second.
But the Wild got one back 34 seconds later when Boldy beat Samsonov, 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, and Matthews converted a wraparound at 10:25.
Nylander then added his second of the night and third overall off the rush at 12:14.
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.
Reaves, who played 61 games with the Wild last season, also fought Montreal defenseman Arber Xhekaj on Wednesday.
“Been an unreal addition,” Matthews said of Reaves, who shared a postgame laugh with Foligno outside the locker rooms. “Big hits, getting the momentum back on our side.
“And obviously he’s not afraid to chuck ’em.”
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.”
Maple Leafs: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
Wild: Visit the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl