A puck in the face to Mark Fraser is not the way John-Michael Liles envisioned getting back in the Maple Leafs lineup, but the veteran blue-liner is happy to get a second chance to prove he belongs.

He played Game 1, but was a healthy scratch the next three games.

“It’s never easy, just keep working hard, wait for an opportunity to get back in,” said Liles. “The team has been playing well. We’ve had a few mistakes that have cost us and they’ve capitalized. The team is playing hard. We’ll do what we can. A bounce here and there, and we’d be in a different situation.”

“It’s not over yet.”

The Leafs have to win Friday night to force a Game 6 back at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday.

In addition to Liles, the Leaf have defenceman Jesse Blacker up from the AHL Marlies on an emergency basis as the team’s seventh healthy defenceman. Mike Kostka is out with a broken finger.

“Be ready for whatever,” said Blacker. “Coach wants me to work hard in practice, give the other guys a good skate, I’m going to do what he says. I’m going to do my role. Do whatever I can do. I’m just here to try and help out and be ready if I’m called upon.”

Blacker has been on some teams with deep playoff runs in his young career, both in the OHL and with the Marlies appearance in the Calder Cup final last year.

“You get used to playing deep into the season,” said Blacker. “It’s more fun that way. Shorter summers are definitely a sign of success. It’s always fun to play deep.”