Auston Matthews opens NHL season on historic heater with back-to-back hat tricks

The Maple Leafs sniper has been absolutely filling the net through Toronto's first two games of 2023-24.

Auston Matthews has the hot hand early for the Maple Leafs. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Auston Matthews' torrid start to the 2023-24 NHL season continued on Saturday, as the Maple Leafs sniper tallied three more goals in Toronto's win over the Minnesota Wild for his second consecutive hat trick to open the campaign.

With another monster night, Matthews became the first Maple Leafs player to record hat tricks in consecutive games since Wendel Clark during the 1993-94 season. Matthews also became the fifth player in NHL history with consecutive hat tricks to start a season — and just the second since 1917-18.

“He’s going to do a lot of damage on a lot of records and a lot of Leafs records, goal-scoring achievements and what not,” Morgan Rielly said of Matthews’ record post-game. “That’s just another one on a long list that he has already achieved. He will continue to push and to grow.”

Matthews won the Hart Trophy two seasons ago after recording 60 goals and 106 points in 73 games and through the opening week of this early season, he once again looks like the best player in the NHL. Perhaps he’s seen it all, as Matthews downplayed his accomplishment post-game.

“I think just the work ethic has been there, both games,” Matthews said. “As a line, we’re just moving our feet, making sure we’re taking care of each other defensively, just trying to attack offensively. The puck’s been going in, it’s always fun and that’s been positive.”

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe raved about Matthews’ performance post-game.

“You don’t expect back to back hat-tricks, of course, but I’ve gotten somewhat comfortable and used to Auston having nights like this and making an impact. To do so in back-to-back games to start a season, it’s terrific. It looks like he’s having lots of fun.”

Matthews’ second goal of the game was originally credited to John Tavares, after he threw a speculative passing effort towards the net. It was corrected when it was determined that Matthews’ pass didn’t hit Tavares in front of the net. He’s scoring in all types of ways and from all over the ice during the opening two games of the year.

Toronto resumes its opening home stand against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday when Matthews will attempt to continue his attack on the franchise and NHL record books against the league's newest phenom Connor Bedard.