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Nikita Zaitsev of Maple Leafs likely out for Game 2

Upper-body injury expected to keep defenseman sidelined against Capitals on Saturday

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is not expected to be in the lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC).

Washington leads the best-of-7 series 1-0 after a 3-2 overtime win Thursday. Zaitsev, who has an upper-body injury, did not play in that game.

"I don't expect him back," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Friday. "He didn't go on the ice today. I was lobbying the best I could today, but they [the trainers] don't much care what I say."

The Maple Leafs held an optional practice Friday at Verizon Center. Zaitsev, who was injured in Toronto's regular-season-ending 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last Sunday, did not skate despite Babcock's efforts to convince Toronto's trainers. Zaitsev instead worked out on a stationary bike.

The 25-year-old averaged 22:01 per game during the regulr season, second among Maple Leafs skaters (defenseman Morgan Rielly, 22:10), and finished with 36 points (four goals, 32 assists) in 82 games.

Video: TOR@LAK: Zaitsev beats Quick through traffic in front

Because of Zaitsev's injury, Babcock shuffled his defense pairs prior to Game 1, including moving left-handed defenseman Matt Hunwick to the right side with Rielly, Zaitsev's usual partner.

"I haven't done a ton of it this year, but the last four, five, six weeks I played right [side] throughout the game," Hunwick said. "It's just something I have to be more comfortable with. Some stuff is great, in the offensive blue line to be able to walk the middle with your forehand. It can be tougher [having] to go your backhand at times, especially with ice that's not always perfect. At times you can see the ice better, at times you're limited. There are some adjustments."

Defenseman Martin Marincin entered the lineup for Game 1 and played with Connor Carrick, and Jake Gardiner played with Roman Polak.

"It's something that this time of year, injuries are going to affect certain spots in your lineup," Carrick said Thursday. "[Zaitsev] is an important part for us, but we have to try to fill the void as best we can."

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