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

Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets that improved the Leafs’ record to 36-16-4 on the season.

On the team’s performance in a game where they coughed up a 3-0 lead and recovered for the win:

I liked a lot about our game. I obviously don’t like the start of the second period. That goal they scored early in the second is the real downer on the game for me — that piece.

Obviously, that first period was as good as we could ask for. You want to follow that up and keep building on it. We weren’t able to do that. That was the disappointing part of the game.

If you look at it, we outscored them 5-1 at even-strength. They scored a four-on-four goal, a power-play goal, and one with their goalie out. Five at even strength, and we probably could have had two or three in the second period. The puck was laying on the goal line a couple of times. We had a couple of 2-on-1s.

I thought we out-chanced them in the second period despite them carrying the play a little bit against us. The fact that we weren’t able to get the fourth goal was significant in the second period.

We took a penalty, and they got one to even it up. I loved how our guys just were calm, went out there, and made plays to get us our lead back.

On John Tavares hitting the post and still looking for more luck around the net:

He is coming onto a hot streak. He scored last game. I am not worried about John in that regard.

On Auston Matthews’ dominant play:

There is no secret that line has been dominant for us for quite a while now. In the first period, they were really good. Our whole team was really good in the first, which makes Auston’s line and Auston himself that much more dangerous.

Shift over shift, we are carrying momentum and really wearing down the opponent. All of a sudden, Auston comes over the boards, and it is tough on the opponent.

If I remember correctly, even the goal in the third period — the Bunting goal — that was the Kampf line out there drawing the icing. We sent out Auston’s line in a good spot. They ended up turning that into a goal, which ended up being the game-winner.

Little things like that, when our team is playing well, make those guys even better. But certainly, that line on its own, and Auston in particular, are feeling it.

On Michael Bunting continuing to excel on line one:

There hasn’t been a second of doubt for me for quite some time in terms of his ability to perform on that line and be a consistent contributor.

I say consistent contributor because that is what he is. Of course, he is benefitting from playing with Auston and Mitch, but those guys are benefitting from playing with him as well — the energy that he brings, the competitiveness that he brings, and if he gets the puck, he is holding onto it and making a play.

He is not intimidated playing with those guys. He plays with them. He has been tremendous.

On the team’s defensive play around its net:

I thought we did a good job. The first goal is exactly what we have been talking about, so I didn’t like that at all. Save for that, I thought we did a good job in that area.

Columbus, with the way that they play and some of the skill that they have, is going to create different types of looks than that. We weren’t stressed in that area as much as we thought we might’ve been. Part of that is because we carried play for good chunks of the game. When it came time for that, I thought we did a good job.

We gave up a lead here tonight, and the score comes back together, but like I said, there was a goalie-out goal, and a power-play goal — which I thought was a tremendous penalty kill for us for 1:30, and all of a sudden, there is kind of a broken play and they find a guy at the backdoor. Little things like that made it a tighter game than I thought it really was in terms of the chances we were able to generate and the goals we got at even strength.

On Alex Kerfoot’s 4-3 goal:

Huge goal. Great play by his linemates there. Spezz and Simmer made a great play on the entry and played with lots of poise. They got the puck to Kerf in a great spot. He made good on us. It was a huge goal for us at that time.

The bench responded really well. Again, I thought we did a pretty good job from that point on at even strength. Taking the penalty when they were going to take the goalie out puts us in a real tough spot, but luckily, we had that two-goal lead at that time.

On Petr Mrazek’s performance:

I thought he played a lot better than the stat line is going to show today. On the last goal, I don’t think he saw that coming through Holl there as Holl is trying to block it. If anything, he is probably expecting a guy like Laine to rip that high. It comes right along the ice. That is a tough one.

There were a couple of backdoor goals and another tip. I thought he stood strong at times in that third period, especially when they had a couple of rallies there. I was really encouraged by his game.

On whether he will go to Jack Campbell in the back-to-back tomorrow:

Yeah, we will.