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The tests are coming a lot faster and harder than the Toronto Maple Leafs would like.

First, there were two games against the formidable Winnipeg Jets on the heels of their first offensive slump of the season. Then, as the Jets had them on the run Saturday night in the second game, there was the loss of Auston Matthews to a shoulder injury after taking a second-period hit from Winnipeg defenceman Jacob Trouba.

There will be no official word on Matthews’s prognosis until Monday, just ahead of a game against the visiting Calgary Flames, which he will miss. But no one will be surprised if Matthews ends up on the injured-reserve list for a lengthy absence.

He was clearly in a lot of pain when he left Saturday’s game, although several of his teammates and Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said Matthews seemed in good spirits on Sunday morning. The only positive note was that the injury occurred to his left shoulder, not the right one, which was injured last February and kept him out for a month.

But there is some good news here, starting with the fact the Leafs picked themselves up after getting pushed around by the Jets for two periods. They started skating and using their sticks to win puck battles and stunned the visitors with three goals in the third period for a 3-2 win and sweep of their miniseries, with the last two goals coming 26 seconds apart.

Playing without Matthews is actually something the Leafs are used to and have shown they can handle. They went 11-7-2 in the 20 games Matthews missed last season over three different stretches. While there were some wobbles, such as the four losses during the six games Matthews missed with a concussion last December, the Leafs managed to get by.

This time around, it could be argued the Leafs are actually missing more than just Matthews, their best player. William Nylander, who made up two-thirds of the Leafs’ top line last season with Matthews, has yet to play this season while waiting out contract negotiations.

However, the Leafs are in a much better position to withstand the loss of Matthews, who had 16 points in 11 games to lead the team. One year ago, the Leafs’ top three centres were Matthews, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak. Now they are Matthews, John Tavares and Kadri.

The difference was readily apparent on Saturday night in the third period when Babcock reunited Kadri with Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau, with whom he worked so well last season. Marner picked the pockets of two Jets defencemen behind their net to set up Kadri and defenceman Jake Gardiner for third-period goals.

Meanwhile, Kasperi Kapanen went from playing the right side with Matthews to Tavares’s line with Zach Hyman. Tavares won a third important puck battle 26 seconds after Gardiner’s goal to set up Kapanen for the winning goal.

So Matthews may be gone for a while, but Babcock still has a set of top-two lines that is the envy of many an NHL coach. He can simply bump up their ice time a little from what he did when Matthews was in the lineup to a more traditional model, in which the third line’s minutes would be cut back from the 16 minutes Kadri was averaging as the third-line centre.

Par Lindholm, who was playing well in his first NHL season as Kadri’s left wing of late, is now the third-line centre with Andreas Johnsson and Connor Brown. Lindholm was supposed to be the fourth-line centre this season, but Nylander’s contract woes and Johnsson’s regression to healthy scratch resulted in a shuffle.

The pressure here is on Lindholm and his new linemates to hold their own as the third unit. Johnsson, 23, played his way to a prominent role late last season after a promotion from the AHL and later was the most valuable player of the AHL playoffs for the Toronto Marlies. But this season has been an exile to the press box for the most part and Johnsson has one assist in six games.

“He’s got to play heavy,” Babcock said when asked what he expects of Johnsson. “When he has the puck, where does the puck end up? In other words, do they have it or do we have it?

“That whole line we had [Sunday] with him and Lindholm and Brown, it’s a challenge for all of them. You have to find a way to have the puck and hang on to the puck and play in the [offensive] zone and attack the net. So that will be the challenge.”

Defenceman Travis Dermott recovered from the flu that kept him out of both Winnipeg games. But Babcock liked the way Martin Marincin played as a replacement so well that he is sticking with him for the Calgary game.

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