Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 7-6 loss to the Florida Panthers that dropped the Leafs’ record to 45-19-6 on the season.
On where the game got away from the team:
Obviously, we go from being on a breakaway with a chance to make it 6-1, don’t score, and follow it up with a too-many-men on the ice penalty right after. That starts to snowball. Inside of that, we had some pretty terrible penalty killing.
I am not going to focus on that kind of stuff. I am going to focus on the fact that we played another good hockey game today.
We were bad in moments with the penalties. You can’t take a too-many-men penalty. You can’t give up a shorthanded goal on a clear shot from the blue line. You can’t have your fourth line in the third period. You can’t chase the puck on the penalty kill. All of those kinds of things we can’t do in those moments. Maybe those are a sign of the fatigue factor coming into today. I don’t know. Last night, we didn’t do any of those types of things. I am going to watch those kinds of things.
For me, this last little stretch we have been on — Florida at home, Boston on the road, Tampa last night, and Florida here — I was looking to come out of this segment with a sense of where we are at as a team and whether we can compete with the very best in our division. I think that answer is unequivocally yes. That is all I am going to take out of this.
On what he liked about how the team handled this recent stretch:
Just confident, committed, and resilient. I will use resilient because that showed up again tonight. Our power play wasn’t good in that third period in the second half of the game. There is a critical moment there where our guys have to gather themselves. We had another chance on the power play and another chance to tie the game. They executed and got it done for us.
That, to me, is another terrific thing. In that moment, our guys needed to push back. Our best people needed to execute in a critical time. They did. That gets us to overtime and gets us a very important point.
I have said it 100 times. To me, the game is a tie, and overtime is a crapshoot. John misses his breakaway, and they score on their 2-on-1 — that is the way it goes.
The resilient piece today I like. Obviously, we hate how we gave up the lead and all of those kinds of things. There is a lot to take away from that, but we did a ton of really good things here today on a back-to-back against the top team in our conference.
I am feeling really good about where we are at as a team.
On Jake Muzzin’s first game back:
The goal was great to see. I thought he competed really well. I’d have to watch his shifts back, but he was competitive, stood in there, was physical, and he looked like he played his game. I don’t know where the minutes shook out in the end, but Dean was managing that. I thought he did well.
I liked our D for the most part today. Five on five, we were pretty good. On special teams, they got seven goals, and two of them were at five on five.
On Mitch Marner’s shorthanded goal:
That was unbelievable. Again, that is a big moment in the game. It is 1-1 and we are starting the second period on the penalty kill. I love that play by Mitch. It is just a big-time play followed up by the power-play goal. That really got their team on their heels.
We kept going from there. That was great. Obviously, we didn’t get it done in the end, so we don’t like that at all.
On what makes the Barkov and Huberdeau line so dangerous:
They are elite players. We have elite players on our team, too. You guys are used to watching and talking about them. That is what elite players do. On their power play, we let them come to life that way, and we made some mistakes on our five-on-five goals, but they are elite players.
On Jack Campbell’s play coming in cold:
Jack is in a horrible spot there tonight. Again, at another key moment in the game, that save he made at 6-5 on a pass out, he got his leg on one to keep it at a one-goal lead for them. That is massive. That is why we were able to stay alive and get to overtime.
Ultimately, I just made the decision — even though it turned out Kallgren was going to be okay — based on what was happening in the game… I might have made a goalie change even before that if it wasn’t for the fact that it was back-to-back for Jack. By this point, he is already in the net, and he has already put himself into the game. I figured we would give Jack an opportunity to finish the game out.
It is a tough spot for Jack here being back-to-back and all of that, but that save was unbelievable and gave our group confidence.
On Erik Kallgren’s status:
I didn’t ask too many questions, to be honest, about exactly what happened there. My impression was he took a hard shot — a puck — to the head. They were making sure he was okay. He was stunned enough that he had to leave the net. I haven’t gotten much of an update other than he was fine to return to the bench.