Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Leafs centre Auston Matthews celebrates a first-period goal with teammate William Nylander in the season opener against the Senators on Wednesday.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

That this opening night was going to be about Auston Matthews was never in question.

After all, the team most in need – the Toronto Maple Leafs – was trusting its future to the golden hands of the NHL's No. 1 draft pick.

No one, of course, expected the soft-spoken 19-year-old American to score on his first three shots; no one saw the cascade of hats raining down in an enemy rink for the first hat trick of what should be a remarkable career; and no one really expected that he would be first star in his first game, having scored all four of Toronto's goals in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Senators.

Story continues below advertisement

Then again, there's always something special about opening nights.

Read more: How Auston Matthews became hockey's hottest prospect

Read more: Maple Leafs open season with one of youngest teams in NHL

Read more: The Ottawa Senators have something to prove this hockey season

There's the goofy – they were selling commemorative warm-up pucks at the Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday evening – and then there's the endless hope: all seven Canadian NHL teams were playoff locks the moment the first puck dropped, despite all seven bottoming out last spring.

But mostly there's the new – as Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher put it, "New coach, new players, new systems."

Or, as young Matthews preferred: "Don't want to think about that too much. Just go out there and play."

Story continues below advertisement

And so he did. The surprising ice hockey phenomenon from San Ramon, Calif. – ranked richest and safest city in America – via Scottsdale, Ariz., waited only 8 minutes 21 seconds before scoring his first by clipping in a Zach Hyman pass from behind the Ottawa net.

In a nice Tim Hortons touch, parents Brian and Ema were in the stands watching. But even prejudiced parents couldn't have imagined such a start.

The rookie's first goal came courtesy of a long stretch of stunningly sloppy hockey by the Senators – so much for learning all those new, complicated systems.

Two minutes later, the story was about the "old" – Ottawa's Bobby Ryan picking up an Erik Karlsson rebound and chipping it in past new Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen. For Ryan, a one-time 30-goal scorer who struggled last season, it was a welcome start to what he hopes will be a more productive year.

Ryan also picked up an assist on a Karlsson blast from the point that briefly put the Senators ahead – but only briefly.

Then along came Matthews, again … and again … and again.

Story continues below advertisement

Less than two minutes after Karlsson's goal, Toronto's great white-and-blue hope stripped the puck away from a swarm of Senators, neatly pulling the puck off the boards and past Karlsson, allowing Matthews to slip down the left wing and put a puck in the short side past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson.

Early in the second period, he put Toronto ahead 3-2 when, astonishingly, he was left unguarded in front of the Ottawa net and had time to sign the puck before ripping a wrist shot behind Anderson.

Dozens of caps – many of them brand-new – poured down from the stands to mark the moment, however long it was to last, where Matthews took over the league scoring race.

He padded that total with only three seconds remaining in the second period when, with the game tied again after a goal by new Senator Derek Brassard, Matthews broke down ice on a two-on-one with 20-year-old William Nylander, Matthews passed, Nylander returned the puck and Matthews calmly tipped it in behind Anderson.

Ottawa tied the game again in the third period when Kyle Turris was alone in front of Andersen and Mark Stone was able to feed him the puck for a quick shot.

The chaotic game – highly-entertaining for the 17,618 fans, ulcer-causing for the coaches – was finally settled when Turris finished off a lovely tic-tac-toe passing play less than a minute into overtime with a hard slapper to the top of Andersen's net.

Story continues below advertisement

"Just play," Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said he told his team. "Just be good players – and let your skill come out."

It was no surprise that the Toronto rookies, led by Matthews, would gain the most attention. Toronto is now the youngest team in the league and had six rookies in Wednesday's lineup.

While Matthews was the story on the scoresheet, some of the best stories on the ice concerned a wisp of a player called Mitch Marner, whose speed and puck-handling charmed the significant Leafs fans in the stands and flummoxed the Ottawa defenders.

For Ottawa fans, there was less scrutiny of who was on the ice than who was behind the bench. New head coach Boucher and his legion of assistants had driven the Senators hard in training camp. Their brains, in fact, may have been more drained than their legs with all the "systems" they were expected to have down pat – and obviously did not.

Of great curiosity to all is how Boucher, the micro-manager's micro-manager, will handle his stubborn, gifted and risk-loving captain, Karlsson.

"I always go with my players' strengths," Boucher had said earlier in the day to precisely that question.

Story continues below advertisement

"If you've got the best defenceman in the world, you don't want to change."

We shall see.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies