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Maple Leafs’ Matthews out with minor injury, won’t face Islanders

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Auston Matthews’ run at 60 goals will have to wait. 

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The Maple Leafs superstar won’t be in the lineup on Sunday night when the Leafs play host to the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Arena.

“Auston’s got a minor injury, I’d say at this point,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said a couple of hours before the opening faceoff.

“He’s going to be day to day. Just really out of an abundance of caution, we will give him the day off and re-assess him from there.”

Matthews had a maintenance day last Monday and did not practise, but Keefe said this issue was unrelated. 

“(It was) something last night (in the game in Ottawa against the Senators),” Keefe said. “Considered pretty minor at point, but given the back to back, the quick turnaround, going to give him the night off.”

So Keefe is not too worried, from the sound of it? 

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“No,” the coach said in reply.

Matthews has not scored in the past three Leafs games, and has been sitting on 58 goals since scoring two against the Montreal Canadiens on April 9. In 70 games, he has 102 points.

In five games that Matthews has not played in this season, the Leafs are 4-1-0. 

In Matthews’ place, captain John Tavares will play between Michael Bunting and Mitch Marner on the top line, Keefe said.

Wayne Simmonds and Nick Abruzzese will draw into the Toronto lineup. Along with Matthews, Kyle Clifford will sit. 

A win against the Islanders would be the Leafs’ 50th of 2021-22, which would set a franchise record for the most in one season. 

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And with 104 points, the Leafs are one shy of tying the club record of 105 set in 2017-18.

“There is lots that goes into it over the course of a long season,” defenceman Morgan Rielly said. “It’s just a matter of trying to be consistent every day with our work ethic and our desire to get better and compete at a high level.

“We have done a good job of trying to keep our goals at the forefront of what we’re doing every day. We’re motivated to accomplish a lot.

“We’re not there yet. We have lots of work left to do.”

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Has Rielly played on a deeper Leafs team during his tenure with the team?

“It’s hard to think of one, but that being said, unless you do some winning come playoff time, it’s hard to look past anything other than that,” Rielly said. “The team is deep, yeah, but you have to do something with it.”

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