In the midst of a 10-day stretch most mortals could only dream of, Auston Matthews says he feels fortunate.
It is not by chance that he’s already cleared 100 goals as an NHL player, not with his size and smarts and a deceptive release that keeps goalies guessing. Matthews scored twice in Thursday’s back-and-forth 6-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, reaching triple digits faster than any other member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the modern era.
They have been a memorable 187 games in blue and white for Matthews, who potted four goals in his NHL debut and has been filling the net ever since.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said teammate Morgan Rielly. “He’s my favourite player right now, the way he can shoot the puck. You want to say you’re proud of him, but it’s just what you expect.”
His description of the milestone goal offers a window into his unique mind. It came on a power play with Matthews stationed in his familiar spot in the left circle — a spot where Marc-Andre Fleury had denied him earlier in the evening.
This time, Matthews nearly sent the Golden Knights goaltender tumbling to the ice because of the unexpected way he shot the puck.
“I had kind of a similar look in the first period and I think he kind of just guessed correctly,” said Matthews. “He didn’t really go down, so I thought the second time I would just fire it on the ice and see if he’d do the same thing. Lucky enough, he kind of guessed I was going short-side again and I was able to sneak it in.”
He followed that up with goal No. 101 to go with an assist as the Leafs fought off a couple furious Vegas comebacks in a game they dominated at even strength. No one was more dominant than Matthews.