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Matthews out at least four weeks for Maple Leafs with shoulder injury

Center leads Toronto with 10 goals, 16 points

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- Auston Matthews will be out at least four weeks for the Toronto Maple Leafs after injuring his left shoulder Saturday.

The center was placed on injured reserve Monday.

Matthews said the type of injury is similar to the right-shoulder injury he sustained Feb. 22 that kept him out 10 games. He also said surgery is not necessary.

"It's frustrating, but there's not much you can do," Matthews said. "It [stinks], but it's part of the game. I'm going to work as hard as I can to get back as soon as possible when I'm feeling back to myself. We've got a lot of depth on this team, and no doubt everybody is going to be fine and step up."

Video: WPG@TOR: Matthews leaves with injury early in 2nd

Matthews was injured on a hit by Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba when he drove to the net during the second period of a 3-2 victory at Scotiabank Arena.

"I knew the guy was coming," Matthews said. "Trying to get a shot off, you don't really know what to expect because you're so close to the goalie, so you don't know if you're going to get hit going into the goalie. Obviously, he took the body, which is what you're supposed to do, and he caught me at the right angle."

Matthews leads the Maple Leafs with 10 goals and 16 points in 11 games after starting the season with seven-consecutive multipoint games. He was held without a point in each of his past four.

The Maple Leafs play the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, NHL.TV). They lead the Eastern Conference with 16 points (8-3-0) and will be going for their third consecutive victory. Coach Mike Babcock said there are no plans to recall a player from Toronto of the American Hockey League at this point.

If Matthews can return in four weeks, he would miss 12 games and face the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 24. The Maple Leafs went 11-7-2 when Matthews was out last season, including 5-3-2 when he was out with the right-shoulder injury.

Matthews said he will not play until the injury has healed fully.

"You've just got to let it heal, I guess, and do everything I can to stay in shape," Matthews said. "Obviously, it's not the position you want to be in, but at least you can still kind of skate once it starts to heal a little bit and feel better, get back on the ice, and try to stay in game shape.

"Regardless of the situation, your health comes first. It's early (in the season), so you want to come back when you're feeling ready to go and back to 100 percent."

Video: Auston Matthews expected to miss at least four weeks

The Maple Leafs could be better equipped to handle Matthews' absence this season with the addition of center John Tavares, but Babcock is taking a wait-and-see approach. Tavares, who signed a seven-year, $77 million contract July 1 as an unrestricted free agent, is second on the Maple Leafs with seven goals.

"I don't know for sure (if we have more depth than last season)," Babcock said. "Twenty games in, ask me that question, I'll tell you if we've got more depth this year."

Tavares said it will take a variety of players to fill the void during Matthews' absence.

"I think it's an opportunity for everybody," he said. "When you have one of the best players in the League on your team and he's going to miss some time, it's an opportunity for a lot of guys to step up. With his skill set, you don't always look to one person, but it starts with guys like myself and trickles on down through the lineup. Guys will get more opportunity, more ice time to take advantage and step up and play key roles."

The biggest change to Toronto's lineup will be Par Lindholm moving to center between left wing Andreas Johnsson and right wing Connor Brown after spending most of the season at left wing. Kasperi Kapanen will replace Matthews on the No. 1 power-play unit, joining Tavares, forwards Mitchell Marner and Nazem Kadri, and defenseman Morgan Rielly.

"Obviously, Lindholm, it's going to be a tougher matchup playing down the middle," Babcock said. "I made clear to [Kapanen] that his No. 1 job is penalty kill, so don't lose your way. He's playing with good players, he'll get out there and get a chance. Shoot it in the net."

Tweet from @LeafsPR: Auston Matthews (shoulder) is expected to be out a minimum of four weeks and will be placed on injured reserve today. #LeafsForever

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