Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs post game
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs post game

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild that ended the Leafs’ winning streak at five games.

On the team’s comeback effort:

I liked that our guys didn’t go away at 3-0 and instead just dug in and wanted to make a game of it. We took over the game in the back half of that second period, which was enough to earn us a point.

On shuffling the lines without Mitch Marner:

Mitch is an important player for us for obvious reasons. Having Kase coming back and it being his first game, it would be a tough ask for him to go up into that situation. We wanted to give him some familarity.

I had talked to Wayne Simmonds before the game and said that I was going to start him there but that I fully expected I was going to move things all over the place — move Auston all over the place and give him different wingers at different times. I wanted Spezza to get time there. I knew if I did that I was going to lose a center in doing so, and I didn’t want to move Kerfoot out.

I was trying to have as little disruption as possible basically. Once we got down, I really just lose some of our guys. Joey Anderson didn’t get much time here today and it was mainly just because I felt we were a guy short, really. I was moving other people around. Penalties were another factor.

Part of it was what I intended to do in the game. Part of it was what the game called for given we were down. I was just trying to kind of mix and match. I didn’t feel we had an easy answer to fill the spot tonight. Once the game was the way it was with us going down and the penalties, it just became something where we needed to shorten the bench and mix things up a bit.

On Mitch Marner’s status for tomorrow’s game in Winnipeg:

He won’t be available tomorrow. We wanted to see how he responded this morning. They were looking at it. They gave it some time here in the day but ultimately decided to give him the weekend here. We will get back home and get a better idea of what might be happening there. We are not expecting him to be out long term at all.

On Marcus Foligno leaving the bench for the fight vs. Wayne Simmonds:

He definitely came off the bench. It is a long time. Lots happened. That feels like forever ago.

On Foligno running into Campbell late in the game:

He pretty much did what he wanted out there. Things happen quick. He was going to the net. Usually, that gets called. Usually, that gets called when a guy goes to the net and doesn’t do much to get out of the way and hits a goalie that is clearly in his blue paint. These things happen. It is a tight game right at the end. I think the refs were just letting the players sort it out.

On Ondrej Kase’s return:

I thought he was good. He played a lot. We used him in different situations. It is nice to have him back, most importantly.

On the team’s start to the game:

I didn’t mind our first period. I thought it was pretty even. They did score the goal really late. There was a period of adjustment there for us for sure. The Wild, of course, are a very good team. They also do some things defensively that are different than most of the opponents that we have faced. That is an adjustment in terms of style of play that we had to find our way with.

When we were down, our guys really just got to it, dug in, and really upped the pace offensively. We ended up with 16 shots in the last eight or nine minutes of the second period. That is more of what we were looking for. We got it in that stretch.

We knew full well Minnesota was going to regroup in the intermission and come hard. They did. I didn’t like how we handled that. We had some trouble getting out of our end tonight that created some problems.

It is a huge point for our team. With the way things have been going for our team, to get down like that, and knowing we have to play tomorrow night. it is an easy one for the guys to say, “We don’t have it tonight… We’ll get ready for Winnipeg.” We didn’t do that. We fought hard. At the tail end of the second, we got an unbelievable 5-on-3 penalty kill. All of those things combined give us a good character point here on the road.

On how prepared the team was for its first shootout:

We had prepared enough to know who our shooters were going to be. Not having Spez was a problem. He was usually going to be our first shooter. We knew who the next guys up were. Kase has been a very good shootout guy over his career. He is a guy we would have in the mix. Nylander and Matthews were the obvious ones.

On Jason Spezza leading the team back from 3-0 down:

Remarkable effort by him. If you look at what is going on in the game, our team was trying to find its way there. A guy like Spez just won’t let us go away. He gets us that big goal. There was some luck in that, but there are a lot of things that lead up to it that give us a chance for that shot and that luck to go our way.

Just two big-time plays on the power play tied the game. We need guys to step up like that when we are missing people such as Mitch. It is good to see Spez do that today. It was tough to see him go out there in OT and not be available for that power play or for the shootout.

On Spezza’s status after leaving the game in OT:

I think he will be fine once things settle down. He got hit right on the nerve. It looked like he was in some pain. I have experienced that before as a player. That is the kind of thing where you feel like you are in a world of hurt for a while, and then it settles down on you, which I think was what happened there. It wasn’t good timing for us with the shootout.