Boston Bruins

Auston Matthews' Game 5 status TBD as Leafs face elimination vs. Bruins

Matthews is dealing with an illness.

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The Maple Leafs are on the brink of elimination in their first round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Bruins entering Tuesday night's Game 5 at TD Garden, and it's still unknown if Toronto's best player will even be in the lineup.

Leafs superstar center Auston Matthews reportedly has been dealing with an illness since Game 3 of the series. The issue was so bad that he was removed from Game 4 during the second intermission and didn't return as the Bruins earned a 3-1 win to take a 3-1 series lead.

"For whatever reason, it's not one of those run-of-the-mill type of illnesses that sort of comes and goes," Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters Sunday. "This one has lingered, and the effects have lingered and gotten worse when he's got on the ice and is asserting himself."

Matthews missed practice Monday in Toronto. His status for Tuesday night's matchup is to be determined, per Keefe.

The Leafs used a first line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Mitch Marner at practice Monday with Matthews absent.

Matthews played well in Game 1 and was the best player on the ice in Game 2, during which he scored the winning goal in the third period. The 26-year-old forward led the league with 69 goals in the regular season, making himself a serious Hart Trophy candidate.

Losing Matthews would obviously be a huge blow to the Leafs' chances of extending their playoff run. He is their best player and the engine that drives a group that ranked No. 2 in goals scored during the regular season.

If Matthews misses Game 5, that will put even more pressure on the other members of the Core Four -- John Tavares, William Nylander and Marner -- to step up and produce offensively.

Marner, who scored a goal in Game 4 and picked up an assist in Game 3, has mostly played terribly in this series. Nylander missed the first three games due to injury and had five of his eight shot attempts blocked in Game 4. Tavares still doesn't have a single 5-on-5 point in the series.

Puck drop for Game 5 is set for 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

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