Auston Matthews sits out Maple Leafs practice ahead of Game 3

Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews (34) keeps his eye on the puck during second period NHL hockey action against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Leafs Nation suffered a jolt Wednesday morning when news circulated that Auston Matthews was absent from practice ahead of Game 3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins first-round series.

But, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported, Matthews had intentionally missed practice, “taking the option” in the optional skate. Reporters added that seemingly all other Leafs were on the ice, stoking up the rumour mill.

But after the practice head coach Sheldon Keefe shared that Matthews was indeed just resting ahead of Wednesday’s pivotal Game 3.

Leafs Nation has been on edge since Game 1, in which their team dropped a 5-1 decision to the Boston Bruins, with Matthews and fellow Core Four member Mitch Marner largely absent from any sort of effective play.

But nerves were potentially assuaged during Game 2, when the Leafs came out strong and Matthews scored on a shifty breakaway to give his club a 3-2 win, sending Toronto home with the series tied, 1-1.

Check out Wednesday night’s Game 3 on Sportsnet and Sportsnet+, starting at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

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