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Apr 26, 2024 3:21 pm

Leafs, eager for return of William Nylander, host Bruins

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The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to even their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series when they host the Boston Bruins in Game 4 on Saturday night.

The Maple Leafs trail 2-1 in the series after losing 4-2 in Game 3 on Wednesday in Toronto.

Maple Leafs forward William Nylander appears ready to make his playoff debut after missing the first three games reportedly with migraine issues. Nylander was second on the team with 40 goals and 98 points while playing all 82 games in the regular season.

Nylander was the first skater on the ice at practice Friday, skated on the third line with Pontus Holmberg and Calle Jarnkrok and took repetitions with the top power-play unit.

Nylander said he doesn’t expect any challenges when he returns from the three-game absence.

“I’ve been skating and everything.” he said.

Nylander led Toronto with 24 power-play assists during the regular season and was second with 11 power-play goals, so he should help a power-play unit that is just 1-for-11 in the series so far.

The Maple Leafs scored on 24 percent of their power plays during the regular season.

“We’re getting our looks,” Toronto forward Mitch Marner said. “I think we really are. I think we’ve done a good job of entering (the zone). It’s just staying confident in it, knowing we have the people in here to make it successful.”

The Bruins suffered a key blow in Game 2 when defenseman Andrew Peeke injured his hand blocking a shot. He is listed as week-to-week.

Boston had acquired Peeke from the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 8 in exchange for defenseman Jakub Zboril and a third-round pick in the 2027 NHL Draft.

Parker Wotherspoon slid into Peeke’s spot in Game 3 and contributed three hits and three blocked shots while playing 19:10.

Mason Lohrei also was called up from Providence of the American Hockey League to serve as a backup.

Bruins captain Brad Marchand is one playoff goal away from passing Hall of Famer and current team president Cam Neely for the most in Bruins history. He scored two goals in Game 3, including an empty-netter that gave him 55 career playoff goals.

“Those are things that you kind of look at down the road and look back upon and get excited about,” Marchand said. “Hopefully, there is plenty more in the tank, but to be in the company of a guy like that who is one of the most gifted goal-scorers in the history of our franchise and the game, it’s pretty special.”

Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have alternated starts through the first three games, but Boston coach Jim Montgomery would not reveal who would start Game 4.

“We’re following the plan we had in place,” he said after practice on Friday.

Toronto defenseman T.J. Brodie also appears in line to make his playoff debut after being a healthy scratch the first three games. He was paired with Joel Edmundson during practice on Friday.

Brodie led Toronto defensemen in games played (78) during the regular season. He also played an average of 21:43, second-most on the team behind fellow defenseman Morgan Rielly (23:44).

Brodie, 33, has played 55 playoff games in his NHL career with the Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames.

-Field Level Media

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