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Johnston: Matthews unlikely to play in must-win Game 5


Toronto Maple Leafs star centre Auston Matthews is unlikely to dress in the team's must-win Game 5 against the Boston Bruins Tuesday, TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reports.

Johnston writes in The Athletic that in addition to the illness that led Matthews' being pulled from the third period of Game 4, the 26-year-old centre is also believed to be nursing an undisclosed injury.

Matthews was the first player on the ice Tuesday, but departed prior to the team's optional skate getting underway. It marked his first time on the ice since being pulled on by the team doctor in Saturday's 3-1 loss.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe said Matthews is working to get himself prepared to play, but his availability will ultimately be a doctor's call and had not yet been determined.


Woll to start Game 5

Joseph Woll was absent from Tuesday's session, while Ilya Samsonov and Martin Jones took part, suggesting Woll will make his first start of the series. 

Woll replaced Samsonov for the third period of Game 4, facing just two shots in the final frame of the defeat. Samsonov, 27, has started all four games in the series, allowing 12 goals to Bruins. Woll went 12-11-1 in the regular season with a 2.94 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. He was 2-3-0 in his last five regular season games and most recently allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers in the second last game of the season.

The 25-year-old netminder appeared in four games for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs last year, going 1-2 with a 2.43 GAA and .915 save percentage.

Trailing the Bruins 3-1 in their first-round series, the Maple Leafs are facing a must-win Game 5 in Boston on Tuesday. Game 6, if necessary, is scheduled for Thursday in Toronto.

"Until the series is over it’s not over," Leafs forward Ryan Reaves said Tuesday. "(The Bruins) gave up a lead last year, exact same 3-1 lead last year, so sports is a crazy thing.

"We’ve all seen some crazy comebacks in our lives and I’ve been a part of a few."

Preparing for life without Auston Matthews

The Maple Leafs worked with new lines in Monday's practice as the team appeared to prepare to play without Matthews in Game 5. 

Max Domi moved to centre as Mitch Marner skated on the top line along with Tyler BertuzziJohn Tavares centred the second line with Matthew Knies and William Nylander. Nick Robertson, Pontus Holmberg and Calle Jarnkrok were reunited on the third line, while Connor Dewar rejoined the fourth line with David Kampf and Ryan Reaves after being scratched in Game 4.

On defence Monday, Timothy Liljegren skated on the third pairing alongside Joel Edmundson as he appears to set to possibly draw in for TJ Brodie. Liljegren dressed in Games 1 and 2 before being replaced by Brodie for the past two games in Toronto.

"We're hopeful that he's available and feeling good and back to himself," head coach Sheldon Keefe said of Matthews. "But we've played well with guys out in the past."

Matthews has a goal and three points in the playoffs after scoring 69 goals to win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in the regular season.