Maple Leafs face Flyers without Tavares, Muzzin

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The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without two key contributors on Saturday heading into a road game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Captain John Tavares will miss his seventh straight game with a broken right index finger. He expressed discomfort while passing and shooting the puck with injured teammate Zach Hyman during the morning skate on Saturday.

Toronto also will be minus star defenseman Jake Muzzin, who sustained a leg injury on Tuesday during a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. However, Muzzin officially will miss this contest for personal reasons, according to the team.

Muzzin’s absence doesn’t bode well for the Maple Leafs, whose 48 non-shootout goals allowed are tied for the fourth most in the NHL. They have yielded at least four goals in four of the past five contests.

Mired in a 1-2-2 stretch, Toronto went 1-for-8 on the power play against the Capitals. The Leafs are 2-for-21 with the man advantage over the past seven contests.

Though Tavares (three goals, four assists) doesn’t have a power-play goal this season, Toronto certainly could use him back from the broken finger he sustained on Oct. 16. Alas, Tavares announced on Saturday that is not ready to return.

“After going with some of the testing and meeting with the doctor, going through practice yesterday and then how I responded and everything we went through this morning, just felt it was probably best to take advantage of the next three days and see some more progress in terms of the healing and the strength and put me in a better position to be in a better spot to hopefully be able to play,” the 29-year-old Tavares said.

“Obviously it’s disappointing. You come in, traveling with the team, the mindset of trying to get yourself ready to play. You go through those things, but at the same time you’ve got to be safe and make sure you do the right thing.”

Tavares has failed to earn a point in two straight games versus Philadelphia after recording seven in his previous five against the Flyers. Toronto, which looks to avoid a fourth consecutive road defeat, is stuck in an 0-2-2 stretch in games at Philadelphia.

The Flyers have outscored their opponents 22-13 while going 4-1-0 at home, where they return following a 4-3 shootout win at New Jersey on Friday to conclude a 1-2-0 trip.

Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier had a goal and an assist in regulation and was the only player to score in the shootout. Joel Farabee tied the game at 11:29 of the third period with his first NHL goal, and Oskar Lindbolm posted his team-leading seventh goal of the season — and second in as many games — while adding an assist.

“We’re fortunate (to get the win), and we’re getting right back at it (Saturday),” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said, “so it should be a lot of fun.

“We’ve just got to find a way, and that’s what we’re trying to do as a team.”

Philadelphia’s Carter Hart made 23 saves to earn his first win since Oct. 9. However, Brian Elliott (3-2-0, 3.10 goals-against average) could be in net for the Flyers on Saturday, looking to bounce back after he allowed six goals in 40 minutes of a 7-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Toronto netminder Frederik Andersen took the loss Tuesday, but he has a 1.50 GAA while winning his two road starts this season. He is 7-2-2 with a 3.22 GAA in 11 career games versus Philadelphia.

Leafs backup Michael Hutchinson is 0-3-1 with a 4.26 GAA this season. Teammate Auston Matthews has three goals and two assists in the past three games, and three with an assist in the past two appearances against the Flyers.

Couturier, dealing with a sore hand, has three goals and three assists in his past five games versus Toronto.

–Field Level Media

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