Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said forward Auston Matthews is “feeling pretty good” following his injury in the third period of Monday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It’s a really good sign,” Keefe said. “As far as his status in terms of practising tomorrow, we’ll see how he comes in tomorrow but today was a very good day.”
Matthews was injured in the final minute of the third period when he took an inadvertent knee to the back of his head by Hurricanes defenceman Brett Pesce and did not finish the game. The star forward did not skate on Tuesday, but was scheduled to take the day off due to his participation in last weekend’s NHL All-Star festivities.
“There was a pretty good sense by the time he left (last night) that it wasn’t necessarily going to be a head injury,” Keefe added. “But with the nature of the hit that he took, you’re going to continue to be cautious to make sure he’s feeling good before he gets back on the ice.”
Matthews scored two goals on Monday and hit the 30-goal plateau in a season for the sixth time in his career. There was an early sense at practice that the team didn’t plan on being without their star for a long period of time (if any) when forward Pierre Engvall participated as a place holder in Matthews’ spot on the top line with wingers Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting.
In the past, when Matthews had gone down to injury, John Tavares would move up from his regular spot as the second-line centre to fill in.
The Scottsdale, Arizona native has 31 goals and 53 points in 40 games this season.