Ottawa: Top draft pick Austin Matthews became the first player to score four goals in his National Hockey League debut, but did so in a losing cause as the Toronto Maple Leafs fell 5-4 in over-time at Ottawa in the 2016-17 NHL season opener.
Ottawa’s Kyle Turris lifted the Senators level with Matthews at 4-4 just 6:45 into the third period and he connected again 37 seconds into extra time for the game winner.
Matthews, a 19-year-old American centre, scored on his first three shots, becoming only the fifth player in NHL history to net a hat trick in his league debut, the first since compatriot Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers in 2010, also on his first three NHL shots.
Matthews then went where no NHL newcomer had gone before, giving the Leafs a 4-3 lead after two periods in the showdown of Canadian rivals.
Toronto, which has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, finished with the NHL’s worst record last season but Matthews gives the Maple Leafs a star to build around who might revive the club’s fortunes.
Matthews became the first top pick since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 to score in his NHL debut when he found the net to open the scoring just 8:21 into he game.
After Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson scored 2:23 apart to put Ottawa ahead, Matthews equalised on an unassisted goal with 5:42 remaining in the first period.
Matthews completed a hat trick only 85 seconds into the second period and, after Derick Brassard pulled the Senators level, he took a William Nylander pass and tucked the puck into the net on a breakaway three seconds before the end of the second period, only to have Turris pull out the victory for the Senators.
Blues defeat Blackhawks
In the first opening-night match involving US teams, the St. Louis Blues beat host Chicago 5-2.
Richard Panik’s power-play goal 4:38 into the first period put Chicago on top but Kevin Shattenkirk answered for St. Louis 4:52 into the second period to equalise.
Ryan Hartman put the Blackhawks back in front with 6:03 remaining in the second period but again the Blues answered with Vladimir Tarasenko netting a power-play goal 32 seconds before the second period ended.
Paul Stastny gave the Blues, who ousted Chicago in the first round of last season’s playoffs, the winning goal just 55 seconds into the third period.
Tarasenko added an empty-net goal with 66 seconds remaining after the Blackhawks pulled the netminder for an extra attacker. The Blackhawks netted a final goal into their own empty net to seal the St. Louis triumph.
Crosby, Eichel injured
The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins will raise their NHL championship banner Thursday when they play host to Washington but Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will be sidelined by a concussion.
The 29-year-old Canadian star, the World Cup of Hockey Most Valuable Player and scorer of the gold-winning goal for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, practised Wednesday, two days after suffering the latest in a series of concussions.
“I’ve been through this before I don’t get too caught up in every little step,” Crosby said. “It’s a game you want to be a part of, but at the same time, I think I’ve spent more than enough time being in this situation. You understand you have to be patient. You have to make sure you listen to your body.”
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, the second pick in last year’s NHL Draft, suffered an ankle injury in practice Wednesday and the 19-year-old needed help to skate off the ice.
Eichel, who scored 24 goals last season, was uncertain for the Sabres’ opener Thursday against visiting Montreal.