7 things we learned in the NHL: Matthews, Rielly leapfrog Gretzky, Orr

Auston Matthews scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season in the Maple Leafs' win over the Red Wings, and Mike Babcock talked about the success of Matthews and his team.

The Maple Leafs are an absolute wagon; the Canadiens were shut out in a home opener for the first time in 84 years; Connor McDavid scored his first of the year; Elias Pettersson extended his point streak to four games; Reilly Smith scored his 100th career goal and Rasmus Dahlin recorded his first NHL point.

There are no NHL games scheduled for Friday, but luckily for hockey fans there was plenty to choose from Thursday night with 12 games on the docket.

Here are seven things we learned.

Rielly, Matthews set records to join elite company

It has been a dream start to the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and during Thursday’s win over the Red Wings, two of Toronto’s top stars broke a pair of records previously held by hockey royalty.

Morgan Rielly set a new modern-era NHL record for most points by a defenceman through his team’s first five games with 12, passing none other than Bobby Orr.

The overall NHL record is held by Harry Cameron who had 15 points with the Toronto Arenas in the first five games of the 1917-18 season.

“We’ve got good offensive players up front and Morgan can pass and really skate,” Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock told reporters post-game before adding, “[Rielly] has confidence — no one gives it to you, you’ve got to earn it. I think he earned a lot last year and he’s really come on again this year. He feels like every night he goes out there he can do something.”

Rielly is currently tied with Auston Matthews for the league lead in points with 12 apiece. Teammates John Tavares and Mitch Marner are tied for second with 10 points each.

Matthews added two more goals to bring his league-leading total to nine and, in doing so, became the youngest player in NHL history to record more than one point in each of his team’s first five games. The previous youngest? Wayne Gretzky.

Both of Matthews’s goals came on Toronto’s bullish power play, which is clicking at a league best 50 per cent.

“I think when we work hard, our skill really comes out,” Matthews said. “When we’re skating and keeping things, for the most part, simple and taking care of the puck, we’re obviously a fast, skilled team and that really brings it out.”

Phil thrills with natural hat trick

Phil Kessel had a career-high 92 points in 2017-18 and he’s off to a strong start this season. The winger had two assists through two games and recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in his third game of the year, a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

It was the 48th multi-goal game of his NHL career and sixth hat trick. Kessel, despite being among the league’s top goal scorers, hadn’t recorded a hatty since Feb. 1, 2014 when he was a member of the Maple Leafs.

Kessel has been a model of consistency throughout his 12-year NHL career. In fact, he hasn’t missed a regular-season game since the 2009-10 campaign and is one of five active NHLers that has scored at least 20 goals in 10 consecutive seasons. Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and James Neal are the others. Oh, and speaking of Neal…

‘The Real Deal’ scores his first with Flames

It was a rough night for Calgary as they fell 5-3 to St. Louis but James Neal made a bit of personal history by scoring his first goal as a member of the Flames. All Neal had to do was keep his stick on the ice and not fan on his shot after Sam Bennett did most of the work.

The Flames are the fifth team Neal has scored with. He scored 72 with the Stars, 89 with the Penguins, 77 with the Preds and had 25 in his lone season in Vegas.

Wood goes after ‘idol’ Ovechkin

New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood grew up idolizing Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin and on Thursday, in what must have been a surreal moment for the 23-year-old, he dropped the gloves with his hockey hero. Now, no punches were thrown, but during a first-period scrum in what turned out to be a 6-0 Devils win, Wood aggressively went after Ovechkin and even popped his helmet off thanks to little headlock.

There was nothing remarkable about the scrum but what made it interesting is Wood and Ovechkin actually have a funny history together.

Check out this 2016 video below for some context:

The Caps remembered this and sent out a tongue-in-cheek tweet about it right after the scrum.

Bruins’ top line hasn’t missed a beat

The Boston line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak was the consensus best line in hockey one season ago and there’s little doubt they’ll be in the running in 2018-19 as well. The Bruins topped the Oilers 4-1 and each member of the line scored. Through four games this season, the trio has combined for 10 goals and 22 points. Thursday’s game was highlighted by Pastrnak’s early goal of the year contender.

Campbell gets first NHL shutout

It has been a long time coming for Jack Campbell. The 11th-overall pick from 2010 is considered an NHL Draft bust, but the 26-year-old has already started three games for the Los Angeles Kings this season and he recorded a 40-save shutout against the Habs.

Campbell, in typical hockey player fashion, credited his teammates for helping him pick up his fourth career NHL win.

“They had 40 [shots] but we did a heck of a job all night,” Campbell told reporters after the win. “They have some real good skill and we limited their interior offensive chances. Pretty cool, [Montreal’s] opening night, and the boys just played great.”

Golden Knights can’t get power play going

The Golden Knights’ dream inaugural season is quickly becoming a distant memory. Vegas is off to a concerning 1-4-0 start and have only managed to score 10 goals. A key contributing factor is the fact they haven’t scored with the man advantage.

They went 0-for-2 in their loss to the Pens, which means they’re now 0-for-13 on the season. That’s not quite the worst ratio in the league — Nashville is 0-for-13 but they’ve still won three of four games — but producing with the man advantage was something the Golden Knights relied on.

Vegas had the 11th-ranked power play in 2017-18 as they operated at 21.4 per cent efficiency. The Lightning, Kings, Blackhawks, Wild and Panthers have also gone goalless on the PP.

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