Matthews breaks American rookie goal record as Leafs storm out the gate

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On the same day that the NHL decided not to send players to the 2018 Olympics, Auston Matthews gave fans of American hockey something specific to cheer about.

He scored the 39th goal of his remarkable rookie season, setting a new record for first-year U.S.-born players in the process. The guy he passed: Neal Broten, one of the key members of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.

Matthews also set another Maple Leafs rookie mark in the process.

The goal itself was appropriately impressive:

Beyond the impressive historical aspect, the goal was important as the Toronto Maple Leafs try to protect their playoff position by thumping the Buffalo Sabres. They’re doing that in a resounding way so far, as Matthews’ goal was part of Toronto building a 3-0 lead in just 5:09 of game time.

It’s also a big moment for William Nylander: