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

Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks that dropped the Leafs’ record to 30-12-3 on the season.

On the team’s performance on a night where they put 53 shots on goal and lost:

I didn’t like the start. On that first goal that we gave up, to me, we lacked the intensity required to start the game in that instance. It cost us.

From that point, I liked a lot about our game. I thought we gave up a little bit too much with their counter and transition coming out of our long o-zone sequences. They would counter and get a pretty good rush chance the other way.

Obviously, we deserved a whole lot more offense and goals than we got tonight, but that is what happens, right? You spot them a 2-0 lead. It is a team that relies on world-class goaltending to win games as it is. If you give them a two-goal lead, it is an uphill climb from there.

I loved that our guys kept fighting. Those were two huge power-play goals to even the game. It is a tough one to give up at the end of the second there to give them the lead back. Goaltending is the difference, but really, for me — because I don’t coach the goaltender on the other side — it is about the two goals that we give them off of the hop.

On the decision not to challenge the Canucks’ 1-0 goal:

We came close. We were looking at it. With the way the rule is and the way most of the precedents are, if the contact happens outside of the blue paint, it is not going to come back. It is not going to be deemed goalie interference.

As we were contemplating it, the official told us that he actually had a tripping penalty on Mrazek on the play, which gave us a pretty good insight as to the mindset and the feedback they would be giving to the NHL war room.

We weren’t confident that it would be called based on the precedent of what we know and where the contact occurred. The fact that they had a tripping penalty on Mrazek tells us their sense of it was that it was Mrazek who initiated the contact.

On the team’s struggles to beat Thatcher Demko:

It is a world-class goalie. I think we did a lot of good things today. We had the puck moving a lot with a lot of shots off of the pass. We had traffic. There are always things you can do better, but we deserved a lot more than we got today.

Hats off to their goalie. He has been unbelievable all season for them. That is part of the story in the game. The bigger part is that you can’t give them the lead. To me, we should’ve won the game 2-1.

We’ll give them their power play goal — maybe their second one or third one, or whatever — but you can’t dig that hole. There is no reason why we couldn’t have won this game 2-1 tonight.

On the team failing to bounce back with a win after the 5-2 loss in Calgary:

It is unlike us. We have been very consistent in our ability to bounce back and put together long stretches of winning. But I don’t like the start. To me, it is a self-inflicted loss tonight. I don’t like that.

We did a lot of really good things here today. I am not going to get too down about this one, but there are certainly things we can take away from it and learn from.

On the rebound from Petr Mrazek on the Canucks’ game-winning goal:

It is a tough one, right? We turned the puck over in the neutral zone. They countered back on us. It is a hard shot coming. Sure, you’d like to handle that one a little bit better, but it is a tough play. It is a tough goal to give up when our guys know how difficult it is to score at the other end. That is a tough one for sure.

Like I said, we had to defend better in those moments, whether it is at the start of the game or that turnover itself that creates a transition. Those are plays you have to eliminate, especially when you go into a game knowing goals are going to be hard to come by.

That is the story for me. We get down in the game and it is hard to come back. This should’ve been a 2-1 win for us tonight, and we get out of here on the back of special teams. That is not the case. We are 0-for-2 here on this trip, and that is not nearly good enough. We have to regroup here and finish the trip off right.

On moving Mikheyev up next to Tavares and Nylander:

I just thought Miky had some good legs today. In that moment, I just thought his ability to get to the net and get something going for us would be a good look for him on that line.

Kerf has played really well for us. He has been one of our most consistent players all season long. He is one of our most productive five-on-five players. I thought, in tonight’s game, Mikheyev was giving us a little bit more in that moment.

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