Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media on Saturday night after the Leafs’ brutal 7-1 road loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the game overall:

I have a lot of thoughts obviously — not many good ones. I thought that after the first little segment of the first period we found our game. I thought we were going really well. I thought we started the first couple shifts of the second period really well — we were in the offensive zone, moving around a little bit, and we had some chances. Then, we had a turnover in the offensive zone and didn’t have structure coming back, so it ends up in our net, and, before we’re gathered, it’s in our net again, and it’s 3-1.

It got away on us there and, obviously, there are a lot of things not to be happy about from that point on. Tough game to assess in a lot of ways because I thought we were going pretty well there for a chunk of time there and then, you know, two pucks are in our net in a hurry and the game didn’t really change from there. I didn’t like how we played from that point on.

It’s tough playing from behind — we’ve been doing it too much here lately. This one will weigh on us, but you’ve got to give Pittsburgh full marks. They were fast and competitive all through the game. They don’t make it easy on you. At times, when we were careless with the puck, they made us pay for it. That was pretty consistent all the way through.

On the reasoning behind using his timeout after the 3-1 goal:

Like I said, I did think we were playing really until that point. In the last eight minutes of the first period and the first couple shifts of the second period, they scored at the end of that second shift.

To that point, Matthews’ line and [Tavares’] line had two shifts spending the entire time in the offensive zone, had a couple of looks at the net, and then it’s a high offensive zone turnover coming back, and it’s in our net. We were making a line change and still trying to process what happened on the previous goal. Before you know it, they’re scoring again.

That was a tough moment where we needed to gather our team. I was just trying to get us to relax and get back to playing and not change or anything like that, but also realizing the situation and playing in a hole… That was really the purpose of the timeout, but I didn’t think we responded well from it.

On his biggest duty as a coach right now:

The biggest thing to manage right now is just the mood and the belief in the group. It’s easy to start doubting and questioning things when things aren’t going your way, but that’s the easy thing to do. The difficult thing is to dig in, recognize that the league is very good, and that [if] you cut corners one little bit, teams make you pay for it.

That’s a team that playing without a lot of their key people, and they have been all season. They just play hard, they play direct, they make you pay for your mistakes, and they’re not making many themselves. That’s a recipe to win games, and clearly, they showed that tonight.

On whether effort or execution was a bigger issue tonight:

Well, I think it’s a little bit of both. I thought our effort level and our execution level really dropped off once the game started to get out of reach there. It’s a funny game. You feel like you’re playing pretty well, and all of a sudden, it goes in continuously.

I’ve never seen anything like it. I think, if I’m not mistaken, all four of the first four goals were all redirects until the fifth goal on [Campbell] where they actually shoot it in the net. The puck was bouncing around all over, so I don’t put any of this on Jack Campbell.

More on the effort:

We need better structure coming back into our zone. We need to make it harder for them to get access to the net — those kinds of things. That team competes really hard, and they’ve got a lot of speed on the puck, so there will be a lot of examples coming out of the game tonight where we’re just not hard enough, not quick enough, and not responsible enough with the puck when we have it.

On the line changes made in the third period and his thoughts going forward:

We’ll contemplate lots of different things here. I had a pretty good sense that the third period was going to be garbage time in a lot of ways and it was going to be real tough for us to make a game of it. We didn’t do ourselves any favours with the way we started the third period. We’ll try to move some things around and change the chemistry a little bit.

On how Mitch Marner is handling a poor start to the season:

From the way he’s approaching the game and talking to his teammates on the bench, I think he’s doing a real good job of focusing on the things that he can control, trying to get his game going, and trying to be a leader on the team. That’s been real positive, but he’s a guy that puts a lot of expectations on himself, so it would be only natural for him to be searching for a solution. But he’s not the only one on the team that needs to find their game right now.