TORONTO — Auston Matthew Matthews was a happy camper when he got to the NHL in 2018.
The 18-year-old rookie defenseman, who scored a hat trick and assisted on the Leafs’ second goal in a 2-1 overtime win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, said he loves the atmosphere of the Maple Leafs’ dressing room.
“It’s fun,” Matthews said.
“It’s like the playoffs, and you get to see the team play and see them win.
Matthews scored three goals and added two assists in just under 19 minutes of ice time for Toronto (16-6-2), which was up 1-0 late in the third period on a goal from Joffrey Lupul and a pair of assists from Nazem Kadri.
Matthews had two goals and one assist in eight games before suffering a lower-body injury late in a loss to the Anaheim Ducks on March 2.
He returned for one more game in a 7-3 win over Dallas on March 9 and scored his first NHL goal in overtime, a shot from the top of the left circle that was saved by goaltender Brian Elliott.
He’s had a busy couple of weeks.
The Leafs lost to the Bruins and Boston lost to Philadelphia.
Toronto won its third straight game and won the first of five straight games overall, but Matthews has been hampered by a lower body injury that has kept him sidelined.
He’s been skating in the AHL for a week and hasn’t played since March 2 against the Bruins.
“He’s a young guy and you see what happens with guys,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said.
“(Matthews) is a good kid.
He does a lot of good things for us.”
Matthewes has one goal and three assists in six games since being recalled from the Toronto Marlies.
He scored a goal in the fourth period of a 2:13 span against the Marlies on Tuesday and assisted when Kadri scored with 2:19 left in regulation.
The Leafs lost the season series to Philadelphia 3-2.
The Bruins and Flyers both have the second-most points in the NHL with 16 and 14, respectively.
Boston has won five of its last seven games and is 5-2-1 in its last eight games.
Philadelphia has lost four straight and is 8-4-1.