Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche that dropped the Leafs’ record to 22-8-3 on the season.
On the team forfeiting a 4-1 lead and how they could have locked it down better:
Hard to say. I’ve got to watch it back. There are not many teams in the league that are able to keep these guys below four these days. I think it is tough to do that, especially with a short bench today missing three very important forwards — three guys that would be vital for us in protecting a lead like that and allowing us to use more of our bench. Three penalty killers as well — we had to kill four penalties. The penalty kill did an outstanding job.
I take nothing but positives out of this game tonight. The way you give up the lead in the third and you end up losing in overtime… As we’ve talked about before, it is its own baby. We tied the game here today. It is a huge point for us, all things considered. This team we were playing tonight is rolling.
It is a tough building to play in. It is probably the loudest building we have played in all year. You come out of playing in front of no fans, and you come into this. The response from our group to start the game was outstanding, even though it took a little bit to get the offense moving.
I thought our guys worked. Our structure was really good. Even though the shot volume goes up throughout the game, I just don’t think we gave up much in terms of dangerous scoring chances. When we did, Soupy was unbelievable with some of the saves he made.
I thought our guys did what we asked of them today. Would we like to get two points? Absolutely. Should we have had two points? Absolutely. But that is a very good team. To come out here on the road and get a point is huge for our group.
On the feeling on the bench as Colorado turned it on:
I just thought we were tired. You could feel it coming in the second period. We put a lot into the start of the game. It showed. We haven’t played a game like this in quite a while at that pace and that energy. It has been a long time.
It was really loud in there. It was hard to talk and communicate with one another, so you are not getting much from them that way. I thought our guys gave it everything that they had today.
We need to get more out of the bottom six of our bench tonight. I thought those guys gave us their best when they were out there. It was hard to put them out there. Really, every time they hopped over the boards, they were looking to get MacKinnon’s line against them. It was harder to get four of our lines into the rotation. I thought that took its toll on us as the game wore on.
To be honest, a lot of the focus will go on the third period. To me, the major turning point in the game were the late goals at the end of the first and the end of the second. It is the difference between being up 3-0 after one and being up 4-1 after two. That is a much different intermission for the opposition when they are down three versus down two. They are one shot away from making it really interesting on home ice.
I thought our guys put a lot into the first half of the game, and we just didn’t have enough gas left to push back when we needed to.
On the Matthews line with Kerfoot and Bunting:
I thought they were good. Obviously, it is a huge difference for us in the first period. I thought Alex Kerfoot was unbelievable tonight. He has been playing so well for us. He is moved up onto that line and he has to play on his off wing. He was playing with Auston, who has not spent a great deal of time playing with. I just thought he was great.
I thought Auston was really good today. Bunting had moments in the game that were very good. The line, in the first period, was very good.
On Nick Ritchie scoring a goal after a tough week where he ended up on waivers:
Huge goal for us and for him. I am sure it does a lot for his confidence. I thought he gave us some good shifts. It is a tough penalty at the end there. You can’t do that at the same time. We had reached a point in the game, I thought, where things were being let go both ways. It was a tough one to have there. Again, unbelievable job by our guys there to grind it out and get the point.
In terms of Rich, he has been through a lot in the last little bit. To get a goal is nice. You could see how happy the guys were for him on the bench.