Auston Matthews didn’t take long to make himself at home at the Air Canada Centre.
His chip play up the boards on his first shift of the night led to a 2-on-1 that nearly connected for the opening goal. Two shifts later, Matthews slid by a check on the powerplay and generated a rebound for Team North America’s opening tally – his first official point of the World Cup on his third shift of the tournament.
Matthews played 14:20 total in the tournament opener – Todd McLellan rolled his lines, with almost all of his forwards in the 14:00-15:00 range – and he was a consistent threat throughout, particularly dangerous when operating down low. He showed off his heavy shot and dynamic release while putting a team-high (tied with Dylan Larkin) five shots on net, a couple of which had Finnish goaltender Pekka Rinne scrambling. Matthews also had a second assist reversed after Connor McDavid’s goal was called back due to goaltender interference by Mark Scheifele on the play.
Impressive enough that he earned a look on McDavid’s line after a couple of exhibition performances, Matthews looks like a good fit on his wing — that line was an eye-popping 75+% CF against a highly respected opponent last night — and he’s consistently been among the best forwards on a Team North America team with ample high-end, NHL-proven talent up front. Four games in, Matthews is looking every bit like a player ready to take the NHL by storm.
Video via Adolf Hipster