Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning that improved the Leafs’ record to 45-19-5 on the season.
On whether he ever gets caught up in Auston Matthews tying a franchise record like he did tonight:
I wouldn’t say I get caught up in it, but I am aware of it. I think it is outstanding. For him to get to 50 goals is a milestone for him, and then there is no hesitation. He is onto the next thing, which is the next game and the next challenge.
I think his focus remains on leading this team. That is the best part about him. He just stays humble and continues to work. He knows he is a great player and knows the goals are going to come. It is part of what he does for our club, but he is leading our team in lots of different ways. That is what I am most excited about.
No doubt, the accomplishment of tying that record and doing it so convincingly here on the road — against a team like this, and just around the corner from the 50th — is pretty outstanding.
On the team’s overall effort:
I just thought we were disciplined in how we played and how we competed. It was not a perfect game. You are not going to play a perfect game against that team. They work. They compete. They make it real hard on you to get out of your zone.
It was a pretty even first period. I really liked how we pulled away there in the second. We just did a really good job of taking care of the game from there.
On Jack Campbell’s performance in his second game back:
He was excellent. That is not an easy team to play against. They have not only great shooters but great passers. They move the puck across the rink really well through seams and change sides on you. They are difficult to track. They have lines that are really heavy and pound the puck from the top with traffic. It is not an easy game to play in.
I don’t think he loved the second goal, but he kept them at two and shut it down from there. That is everything we need and want from a goalie.
On Pierre Engvall’s play:
Pierre was outstanding tonight all the way through the game. That first period — I thought he was our best player in the first period. He really set the tone for our game — not just in the goal but in how he played, competed, and the speed that he played with. I just thought he was excellent tonight.
Obviously, Auston has a big night tonight, and that line with Mitch and Bunts was really good, but just terrific performances all the way through our lineup. I thought the Tavares line was really good. They played a lot of time against the Kucherov and Point line. They did a great job.
Kerfoot scored us a huge goal. Obviously, there was Pierre’s goal, but that line was really good with Kampf. Abruzzese, I thought, was better tonight than he was in his first goal, which is what you are looking for: continued progression.
The Blackwell group gave us great efforts as well. They played lots of minutes and gave us good shifts.
The defense was really solid throughout. It is a good team effort and result on the road. We will clean ourselves up now and look to do it again tomorrow.
On Engvall finding a new level to his play:
With how he is skating, he is being assertive. He has earned more opportunity of late. He has solidified himself in our top nine. That has really allowed him to build positive momentum and feel good and confident. That is part of it.
I have seen consistent performances from him. He has been playing on his toes and playing with speed. Getting offensive contributions is great, of course, but he has just been a really responsible, consistent player. That is really what we have been looking for.
On the challenge against the Panthers and an opportunity to put pressure on them in the standings:
We are excited about it. We came on this trip excited for this opportunity to compete and play. We started with an important win in Philadelphia. This back-to-back in Florida with Tampa and the Panthers has been kind of a flashing light in the schedule all season long.
You know this is going to be a difficult one. For us to play like this here tonight was great, but a very good team is going to be waiting for us tomorrow. We are going to have to be prepared for that. They are as good as any team in the league on home ice. It will be another challenge for us.
On whether William Nylander could be available for tomorrow’s game:
There is a chance. He is going to fly with the team to… I don’t know where we are going… South Florida? I don’t know the city the plane lands in, but we are heading that way, and Willy will be with us. We will make a decision on him based on how he is feeling. We will make a decision on Jake Muzzin as well.
On whether it is Erik Kallgren starting tomorrow in net:
He’ll go tomorrow, yeah.