Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews appears poised to return to lineup in Game 7: Sources

Auston Matthews appears ready to return to the Maple Leafs lineup in Game 7 after all, according to league sources.

Matthews arrived at TD Garden on the first-team bus early Saturday night before Game 7. He missed Games 5 and 6 with an undisclosed injury and seemed unlikely to play against the Bruins on Saturday morning.

While coach Sheldon Keefe said Matthews is “progressing,” he suggested the Leafs would play a third straight potential playoff game without their best player.

“Right now, we’re proceeding the way we have been doing it,” Keefe said.

Matthews participated in Toronto’s morning skate, but was on the ice for only 15 minutes and still appeared to be physically limited. The team did not show any potential line combinations with their drills.

His return for Game 7 would be a huge deal for the Leafs, although it’s unclear how effective Matthews will be when he’s not at full strength. Obviously, he wants to try to help the team in any way he can.

Matthews was a dominant force for the Leafs in a Game 2 win.

Given the highly secretive nature of how teams operate during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s difficult to get specific details about what ails Matthews.

What is known is that the 26-year-old played through illness in Games 3 and 4 before suffering the injury on a harmless hit while playing sick, according to league sources. Team doctors removed Matthews from the lineup during the second intermission of Game 4, and he was unable to participate in a full team practice again until Saturday morning.

Game 7 will be played at 8 p.m. ET at TD Garden in Boston.

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(Photo: Brian Fluharty / USA Today)

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