Hockey Night in Canada

NHL fans losing their hats over early season scoring surge

Who says the NHL has a scoring problem? If the first two days of the 2017-18 season are any indication, goalies will be in for a tough year. There have already been four hat tricks scored in the opening two nights of the NHL season. Will the scoring barrage continue or is this just an early season fad?

There have already been 4 hat tricks in opening 2 nights of NHL season

Connor McDavid smiles watching the hats rain down after his hat trick in Edmonton's season-opening win against the Flames. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Who says the NHL has a scoring problem?

If the first two days of the 2017-18 season are any indication, goalies will be in for a tough year.

The Maple Leafs opened the season on Wednesday by scoring seven goals against the Jets. "But that's the Jets," people said. "They always have bad goaltending!"

Fair enough.

But later that night, reigning MVP Connor McDavid netted the first hat trick of the young season, en route to a 3-0 Oilers victory. The second goal instantly became a candidate for goal of the year, with McDavid reaching a top speed of 41 km/h. 

Edmonton beats Calgary 3-0, McDavid becomes 1st Oiler to accomplish feat to begin season. 1:32

Not to be outdone, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds posted the second hat trick of the night, scoring the team's final three goals in its 5-3 win over the Sharks.

While McDavid is hailed for his speed, Simmonds is known for scoring in the dirty areas. His first goal grazed off his leg in the crease, the second was a tip in front of the net and the final was deposited into an empty net.

But they all count the same on the scoresheet.

Hats continued to rain down on the ice during the second night of action.

In the battle between two nation's capitals, Alex Ovechkin proved he wasn't quite ready to be passed by the Oilers phenom, scoring three goals in the third period and forcing overtime in Ottawa.

Turns out Ovechkin's shot is still ridiculous.

And The Great Eight still has his knack for hat tricks. Since the 2005 lockout, Ovechkin leads the NHL with 18 hat tricks — five more than any other player in that span. 

For good measure, he added another marker in the shootout as Capitals beat the Senators 5-4.

Ovechkin bagged a hat trick while Evgeny Kutznetsov scored the shootout winner, as Washington edged Ottawa 5-4 in a shootout 1:19

Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks put a cap on the scoring frenzy by destroying the Penguins.

The reigning Cup champs allowed 10 goals in Chicago on the second night of a back-to-back. Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman — he of 31 points last season — had points on half of Chicago's goals, while Patrick Kane had four points.

And yeah, there was hat trick in this game, too. That came courtesy of Brandon Saad, in his first game back with Chicago. 

It was the Blackhawks' first 10-goal game since 1988, against the first iteration of the Winnipeg Jets.

"It's embarrassing," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said after the 10-1 blowout loss.

That about sums it up.

Regarding the hat tricks, it's the first time four different players scored at least three goals in his season opener in 100 years, since the NHL's first two games back in 1917. 

Those four players — Joe Malone and Harry Hyland of the Montreal Wanderers, Cy Denneny of the original Ottawa Senators and Reg Noble of the Toronto Arenas — were all alive more than 100 years before McDavid was born.

For fans, the barrage of hat tricks may be a sign of exciting things to come. For coaches, it's a nightmare in the making. For clean-up crews, it means a lot more work picking up those hats.

Offence in the NHL might be back. Still, it's only two nights of hockey. 

With files from The Associated Press

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