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Need to open the scoring? Just ask Auston Matthews

Half of his goals so far this year have been the opening goal of the game.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews now has 18 goals in his first 35 games. You’ve probably seen this little tidbit going around:

There’s something else to Matthews’ goals too, though. Namely: he’s the one opening the scoring. Via the Elias Sports Bureau:

Matthews has scored 18 goals for the Leafs and nine of them have been the first goal of a game, and each of his last five goals have given Toronto a 1–0 lead. Matthews’ nine first goals are the most by an NHL player this season (Sidney Crosby is second with eight) and a single-season record for a Maple Leafs rookie.

Any time you can beat Crosby in a goal-scoring stat, especially this season...

So that’s half of Matthews’ goals coming in order to open the game. That’s over a quarter of the Leafs’ games so far this season Matthews has opened the scoring for them. They haven’t won all of them - this latest edition against the Tampa Bay Lightning marked their fifth win when Matthews scores first - but they’re starting to win them a little more often now.

Either way, though: it’s not like you’re going to say no to having your rookie score the first goal of the game. Over and over again, more than anyone else in the NHL. It’s a neat little matter of timing.