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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 shootout win over the Washington Capitals that improved the Leafs’ record to 52-21-7 on the season.

On the team finding a way late in the game to tie it up from two goals down before winning in a shootout:

It was a real gutsy and gritty effort from the guys to find a way there. We didn’t have much today. It seemed like we were playing on fumes for most of the night. We were encouraging the guys at 3-1 to not accept their fate, keep pushing, and start with one.

It was a huge goal by Miky to get us going there, and then 6-on-5 comes through.

On Erik Kallgren bouncing back after conceding eight in Tampa:

I thought he was great. I thought the guys in front of him did a good job. Despite the fact that we didn’t play well today and didn’t manage the puck well today — you could just tell we weren’t sharp — we did a good job defensively. We didn’t give up a lot of really high-quality chances.

On the ones that we did, and especially when we spent some long shifts in our own end, he was excellent. I loved to see it. The other night got away on us and him in Tampa. You saw enough in the first period where that was the focus — to build on that and be encouraged by that.

There are some of the world’s best shooters on this Washington team as well. He stood his ground. I am really excited that the team found a way to get a win for him.

On Jordan Bean coming through with the challenge call on the hand pass by John Carlson that negated the 2-1 Washington power-play goal:

I didn’t see it at all. Nobody on our bench was talking about it. Credit to those guys. Beaner is on the ball with these things.

Honestly, it seems like there are 100 things a game that they pick up on. It doesn’t always result in a goal. I sometimes think that they may be cheering for us to get scored on in some of these cases [laughs]. It is a chance for them to shine.

It was a great job. They communicated it well. They were on the ball. It was very clear that we should challenge that. I don’t know if they picked up on it on the broadcast or if anybody in the building would have picked up on that, but they have a job to do there. Beaner takes the lead on it, and Sam [Kim] supports him through it behind the scenes there.

Huge moment in the game for sure. It was good to get the proper result to come out of that.

On the plan for the final week of the regular season:

First thing’s first, let’s get home and enjoy a day off tomorrow. This was a tough day today. Last night, it would’ve been four in the morning [when we got to sleep].

It was a tough journey all the way out here. You have almost an hour bus ride just to get to the hotel, and by the time you settle in, it is four in the morning. 12 hours later, you are back at the rink and getting ready to play.

It is a tough, tough ask in the NHL against a team that was here waiting. We knew that Washington was a good team. We are the only team that has beaten them in regulation in the last 11 games. They are playing really good hockey and we knew they would be motivated today.

For our team to find a way to get this game to overtime and then get the second point, it is great.

First, let’s get home, get some rest, and see where we are at as a group. We still have to secure home-ice advantage. That is important for us. We have an opportunity to do that on home ice and get that taken care of. That is important.

We have to take care of our players here just like with our decision to give John the night off today. That was important for us. We will see where we are at with guys and see how we come out of today.

The salary cap being what it is, there is not a great deal of flexibility to make any real changes. I would imagine we will look somewhat similar to what we did tonight.

On the importance of home ice in the first round:

It is important because we are in control of it right now. If we weren’t in control of it, I would probably downplay it. That is just the reality of it.

In terms of in the series itself, some of those things are probably a little overstated. You do get home games. The real advantage comes in later in the series in a Game 7 type of scenario, but you have to earn your way there.

We love the ability to start on home ice. We are in control of it right now. We might as well get it done and secure it. We are not there yet. We didn’t get the necessary points on this trip. That is the way it goes. We have to finish that off here.

That won’t trump any other decisions we have to make when it comes to the health of our players, so we will see where we are at when we come out of this and make some decisions from there. The roster is what it is, and there is not going to be a lot of movement either way.

On the pairing of TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano:

I would have to watch it back, but it is a really tough game for us to take much out of it, to be honest. We just didn’t have it today. We didn’t have the legs. We didn’t have the execution. Our decision-making wasn’t great. A lot of those things would probably not look great on video.

It was nice to get the game, put those guys together, and give them some minutes together. I am not going to be taking too much out of this one here. We are just going to press on, get ready for Detroit, and continue our playoff prep.