Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 14-3-2 on the season.
On how the team closed out the game in the third:
I thought we settled the game down. I didn’t like the chaos that was the second period. Once we got the lead, we have to do a better job with that.
In the third period, we were really good in that regard. We just sucked the life out of the game, which is what you want to do when you’ve got the lead against a team like this — especially a fresh team that we knew was going to have lots of legs in the third period. We knew we needed to slow the game down. Our guys did a good job of that.
On Nylander sitting out the final nine minutes and whether it was message sending, an injury, or trying to get other guys into that situation:
A little bit of all of that except the injury.
On Nylander’s performance tonight:
Both tonight and last game, I thought he’s had good stretches where he has had good legs and he looks real dangerous — like he is ready to break out. I just didn’t like some of the things here today once we got the lead as a team. I didn’t think we did great things in the second period. In the third period, we really got it going the way we wanted to. I didn’t think Willy matched that.
On the decision to successfully challenge for goaltender interference with the game at 4-2 late in the second:
The fact that we had more time [because of the ref’s review] allowed us to get more views of it from different angles. That was the biggest thing, probably. The initial angle that we had was just the overhead. It was a tough decision based on that. With a couple of more looks with different angles, it made me want to go ahead with it.
It is one of those ones that, based on all of the studies we have done and all of the historical stuff, we weren’t really sure which way it would go. But we felt comfortable enough to at least give it a shot with a two-goal lead. Worst case, we were going to have to dig in and kill a penalty, but from one angle in particular — from ice level — I thought there might be a good chance to get it turned over. Fortunately, it did.
On Auston Matthews’ continued magnificence:
He is just an elite player doing elite things. He and Mitch, obviously, got a lot of great things going on. I do think it is important that Auston is setting new standards for himself every day, it seems, and thus our team because he is carrying us to great things.
But I think it is also important to recognize the play of Mitch Marner here and how he has really teamed up with Auston and they are pushing each other to new heights. It has been fun to watch that.
Jumbo, since he has come back, has brought a lot to the line as well.
On Pierre Engvall’s play at center in the last couple of games:
I thought he was really good today. The biggest thing that I have seen, frankly: The playing center part has been somewhat irrelevant because — especially tonight — that line was on the offensive side of the red line most of the game. When that is the case, you are really not playing positions. You are just on the puck and playing on offense and tracking and getting back above it. It is just more 1-2-3 versus centers and wingers. He was really good.
I thought with having Zach Hyman back here today, you could see he is far from 100% here, but after taking a game off, it seemed like he had extra legs here today, especially in the third period. He was putting on a clinic with how he was on the puck.
I thought with Pierre and Miky and their speed, those three guys didn’t seem like much fun for the opposition out there tonight on a lot of their shifts.