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Auston Matthews got a taste of playoff hockey last season. Patrik Laine has been waiting two years for this.The third pick in the 2016 draft? Well Detroit Red Wings T-Shirts Authentic , Pierre-Luc Dubois is taking a surprising star turn in the spotlight of the NHL playoffs, too.Matthews, Laine, Dubois and 2017 top picks Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick look unfazed as they handle significant responsibilities in the postseason. For the first time since 1991, four teenagers have scored a goal in the first round of the playoffs, and all five budding superstars are in top-six forward roles, combining for five goals and six assists.”These guys are young guys,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said after Matthews’ Game 3 winner against Boston was the 20-year-old center’s first point of the series.”They’re playing against real players and they’re young guys. You’ve got to go through some of these slappings in your life to kind of respond and learn how to respond and do things right.”They’ve been doing a lot of things right all season. Matthews’ 34 goals led the Maple Leafs; Laine’s 43 for Winnipeg were second in the NHL; Hischier’s 48 points were second on the Devils; and Patrick’s 30 and gradual improvement earned him a promotion to the Flyers‘ second-line center spot.Dubois was a bit of a surprise pick by Columbus behind Matthews and Laine at the 2016 draft, and he didn’t break into the NHL right away. Dubois wasn’t expected to mature this quickly and doesn’t get the kind of attention as last season’s top finishers for rookie of the year, but he’s used to that by now.”I’ve always been the guy kind of under the radar,” said Dubois, whose 48 points were third on the Blue Jackets. ”All my life it’s been pretty much like that. I don’t really look to impress other people. I just want to play well. I’ve never been the guy that everybody talked about, so it never really fazed me.”Dubois most impressively has earned the trust of old-school coach John Tortorella enough to be the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 center at age 19. Tortorella uses Dubois as an example to show older players how to handle situations Detroit Red Wings Hoodies Authentic , an ultimate sign of respect from a Stanley Cup-winning coach who doesn’t hesitate to put him on the ice against opposing stars.”He accepted it, he excelled,” Tortorella said. ”He has a mental toughness for a 19-year-old kid, to accept that type of responsibility and want more. It’s a different guy. You’ve got to be careful with young kids, but he has showed me tremendous progress and instant mental toughness as I’ve gotten to know him as the season’s gone on.”Laine isn’t tracking the stats of the other players in his draft class, but he knows how they are doing. Similarly, Dubois enjoys watching Matthews and Laine while trying not to compare himself to them.”They’re obviously really great players,” said Dubois, who picked up two assists in his first playoff game and scored a goal in his third. ”I know my game and people that know my game know that we’re all different players. There’s the offensive side of it, there’s the defensive side, there’s everything. Everything’s different about our games.”Production ties them together with Hischier and Patrick, who also don’t look out of place at all in their first playoffs at 19.New Jersey coach John Hynes said Hischier has been one of the Devils’ best players, which is the continuation of a season of learning for the first Swiss No. 1 pick.”I’ve seen every city Detroit Red Wings Hats Authentic , every rink and just for me it was a lot of experience this year, and guys helped me a lot,” said Hischier, who scored in Game 2 against Tampa Bay and played more than 17 minutes in the Devils’ Game 3 win. ”Just all around I think I grew as a person and as a hockey player.”Patrick wasn’t putting up a lot of points in the first half of the season but still felt he was playing well. Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol felt good enough about Patrick’s game that he promoted him and has reaped the benefits for the past couple of months and in the first round against Pittsburgh.”It’s nice for your confidence,” Patrick said. ”I think I kind of progressed through the year and kept getting better with every role they put me in.”Big roles aren’t a problem for Matthews and Laine, who are key drivers of play for the Leafs and Jets. Toronto finally got going against the Bruins in large part because of Matthews, who said he felt an earthquake in his feet when he scored in Game 3 and let out a scream to match.After Laine scored the tying goal in Game 1 against Minnesota in what became the Jets franchise’s first playoff victory, he motioned to fans for cheers before jumping into the glass. The Finnish winger is used to scoring goals – and a lot of them – but in the playoffs it’s even more special.”It was maybe a little bit nicer,” Laine said. ”I was saving my goals and celebrations for the playoffs. Now I can celly (celebrate) a little bit harder.”—AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed.— TORONTO (AP) — Roberto Luongo joked on Twitter after Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner made celebrity cameo appearances in a production of “The Nutcracker” that Toronto’s dynamic duo deserved the night off.No such luck for the goalie and his Florida teammates.Matthews had two goals and two assists, and John Tavares also scored twice to help the Maple Leafs rout the Panthers 6-1 on Thursday night.“We hadn’t been good enough lately,” Matthews said. “Even against these guys last Saturday in Florida (a 4-3 overtime loss) we were terrible. It’s good to get back on track.”Matthews had his second four-point game of the season Custom Detroit Red Wings Jerseys , as did Morgan Rielly with four assists. Mitch Marner added a goal and two assists, Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist, and Frederik Andersen made 25 saves.“We started on time,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “We did things the way you should.”Matthews had the 18th two-goal game of his career.“At times he makes it look easy and this league definitely is not easy,” Tavares said about the 1-year-old Matthews. “To do it at this level that consistently is a testament to his skill set and his attention to detail. No question he’s got one of the best shots in the game.”Rielly is the first NHL defenseman to reach 40 points this season.Henrik Borgstrom scored for Florida, and Roberto Luongo stopped 17 shots before getting the hook early in the third period.“After about the first 10 minutes, it was just a good hockey team playing a team that didn’t look very good,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said. “We had too many passengers. If you don’t have 20 guys all playing the same way, you can get blown out.”The Leafs announced before the game that winger Zach Hyman was out with an ankle injury suffered Tuesday night in a 7-2 victory in New Jersey. Andreas Johnsson took his place on a line with Tavares and Marner, while Connor Brown was elevated to the third unit with Kadri and William Nylander.After the teams traded a number of chances early, Toronto opened the scoring with 1:43 left in the first period as its dormant power-play unit snapped a 1-for-25 stretch.With Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad off for interference, Marner drew all four Florida penalty killers toward him before whipping a cross-ice pass to Matthews, who made no mistake into the open side of the net past Luongo for his 18th goal of the season and a team-high seventh with the man advantage.Marner’s assist was also the 125th of his career to pass Vincent Damphousse for the most by a Leafs player before age 22.Matthews put Toronto up two when he took another cross-ice feed www.officialoilers.com , this time from Rielly, and buried his 19th off the camera inside Luongo’s net at 3:50. Matthews, who missed 14 games with a shoulder injury, was playing for just the 21st time this season.Kadri had a goal taken off the board five minutes later after it was ruled following video review that he had kicked the puck over the line, but eventually got his ninth, converting a pass from Brown on a 2 on 1.Matthews had a chance at the hat trick on a power play early in the third, but Luongo stopped his shot before Taveres put in his 22nd from the crease at 2:38. Tavares added his 23rd off a pass from Marner at 5:41.Borgstrom got a consolation goal, his first of the year, for the Panthers on a power play at 10:28 through a screen.Marner then banked a shot of a Florida defender on another man advantage at 15:14 for his 10th.NOTES: Matthews’ 18 two-goal games ranks him second behind only Alex Ovechkin’s 19 since Matthews entered the league in 2016-17. Matthews has just one hat trick in his career, which came in a four-goal outburst against Ottawa in his first NHL game. … Hyman’s status will be updated after having an MRI on his ankle. … Toronto defenseman Igor Ozhiganov was a late scratch with an illness. Martin Marincin took his place after sitting out the last 17 games.UP NEXTPanthers: At Detroit on Saturday night.Maple Leafs: Host New York Rangers on Saturday night.
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