Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes that improved the Leafs’ record to 30-10-3 on the season.
On Auston Matthews’ status after leaving the game:
No word. We’ll give it some time here to settle down and assess him properly. I had him taking a scheduled day off tomorrow anyway coming back from the All-Star Game. That will give even more time for him to get assessed and make a determination from there.
On his team’s ability to battle back from 1-0 down and 3-2 down:
A lot of really good things today in the game. It is not an easy team to play against. They make it really hard on you to break out, get through the neutral zone, and play on offense. It is really difficult to do that.
I really liked how we stuck with our game. We got a huge power play goal. Great response after that on the faceoff play. Huge goal.
Obviously, we don’t like how we give it right back. We are having to respond again having to play from behind and get the game tied again and then get the second point. A lot of really good things for us to come out of the game.
Against a team of this calibre, when you go back through it, there are going to be a lot of things you can learn from and can help you going forward. That will be the case here again tonight.
I really liked how our guys stayed with it and found a way to get the points.
On whether the game had a playoff feel from behind the bench:
Yeah, I think so. It is always hard in these games with no fans in the building. I know we had some there today. I really appreciated those people coming out here tonight. We had them a little closer to the ice today, so you could feel their presence a little bit more. But it is tough to say the playoff [atmosphere] because the fans bring so much to that.
On the ice, it was a competitive game. In the second period, we gave up, at times, some plays in transition and some odd-man looks that we didn’t like. Generally, both teams, I thought, were not making it easy on each other to get to the net. That is really the playoff feel.
Both teams were committed to it and focused on it. I thought we did a really good job of that. That is their bread and butter as a team. I thought we matched that pretty good here tonight. In that sense, yeah.
Right until the end, it was a pretty competitive game. The guys were going back and forth a little bit with some stuff between the benches. You’ve got the fight in the first period. With all of those pieces, you have two teams that were all in on competing tonight.
On Petr Mrazek’s performance against his former team:
I thought he was really great. We didn’t give up a great deal, but when we did — especially in that second period — there were some really good chances there. He stood tall on them. Even in the first, there was a lot of activity. They were shooting the puck from everywhere early in the game and directing things to the net for tips, rebounds, and shots through traffic. He looked really strong.
They got him on the backside tip. We have to do a better job of tying up that stick on the first goal. I thought he was excellent in that second period, especially. He gave us a chance to find our way in the game and to ultimately get the two points.
On whether Mrazek is finding a groove finally:
You can see it coming. I think it is a little early to say that, but he is certainly building momentum here. That is really what we are looking for. That is part of the season you put him in tonight. He had that great game in relief in New Jersey. We didn’t start him the next night, and then we’ve got the break.
We wanted to get him right back to it here today knowing it gives us, at the same time, the chance to get Jack some rest coming off of the All-Star break and then to ramp up for Calgary.
We are going to need two goalies. We knew that was going to be the case coming into the season. It really hasn’t been up until the last little bit. The fact that Petr is, A) healthy, and B) gaining positive momentum in his play and in our team’s comfort playing in front of him is a very healthy thing for our team.
On his team’s response after Auston Matthews left the game injured:
There wasn’t a whole lot of time left in the game. Our guys just stayed with it. We didn’t finish, up until the breakaway at the end, the last few minutes very well. Going into overtime, things are a little unsettled there. The guys we go with and the pairs we go with are mixed up a little bit.
I thought our guys were just focused on going out and getting it done. Overtime can go either way all the time. We are happy it went our way here today. I thought our guys just kept their focus and just kept playing.