Maple Leafs’ Jake Gardiner expected to return vs. Lightning


Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner. (Chris Young/CP)

Jake Gardiner is expected to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup when the team takes on Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Head coach Mike Babcock announced the 28-year-old would be a game-time decision.

Gardiner hasn’t played since Feb. 25 due to a back injury. In 60 games this season, he has two goals and 29 points.

In other Maple Leafs news, winger Andreas Johnsson is also expected to return to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with an illness. Johnsson has 20 goals and 42 points in 71 games this season.

Gardiner and Johnsson will replace defenceman Jake Muzzin and centre Nazem Kadri in the lineup against the Lightning. Babcock said one was ill and the other wasn’t, but wouldn’t say which was which.

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