Nikita Zaitsev to return from injury for Leafs in Game 3 versus Capitals

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have one of their top defenders back in the lineup for a pivotal Game 3 against the Washington Capitals.

Nikita Zaitsev is ready to return Monday night in Toronto from a suspected concussion.

The 25-year-old will replace Roman Polak, who suffered a season-ending injury in Toronto's double overtime win in Game 2.

Washington and Toronto are tied at one game apiece in the best-of-seven series.

Zaitsev was injured in Toronto's regular-season finale against Columbus, forced to sit out Games 1 and 2.

He led the Leafs in minutes during his rookie NHL season and was second on the team's defence with 36 points.

He'll rejoin Jake Gardiner on a pairing that's likely to match up against Washington's top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie.