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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that tied the series at 1-1.

On facing an improved Tampa team tonight:

Yeah, I thought they played better. That was the team we prepared for. The difference in the game is special teams. At 5v5, it is a pretty even hockey game. Their power play was better, and we took too many penalties.

On so much special teams time in the series so far:

First of all, their power play is very good. That has been a major difference-maker for them. It was for them again tonight.

We have to find a way to kill those. We did that well in Game 1. It was a big reason why Game 1 went the way it did. It didn’t go that way today. We gave them too many opportunities.

On the avoidable goals against on the PK:

I thought we took a bit of a breath on that first one there almost like we thought we were through it. They turned on it real quick. Credit to them. They came real fast and took advantage of us there before the end of the period.

The one with no stick is a tough one. We gave them another look at it. That is a good example and sign of how you can’t give them free looks. You can’t give them extra opportunities.

I thought there were still really good elements to our penalty kill tonight. We just had a couple of bad breaks there. We gave them too many looks and too much time with the puck in our end tonight.

On the team’s discipline through two games and the after-the-whistle penalties:

The refs set the standard early. They took one after the whistle, which made it pretty clear they were going to call it like that after the whistle. We didn’t do a good job of reading that and responding to that.

I also thought, at times, we took some tough penalties during the play. They were calling a lot of holding, tripping, and those kinds of things. We have to do better. We have to be more responsible with that. We will be.

We played a good game here today and got off to another good start. We were in a good spot as a team. That goal at the end of the first period was tough to take, but you are still right there.

I think, at five on five, it was a fairly even hockey game. There is not a whole lot between the two teams. Special teams can make the difference. For them, they got the edge tonight.

On Wayne Simmonds’ two penalties leading to goals against:

We will talk about it. We will be talking to our entire team. It is not just those ones. Those are obvious because they are after the whistle, but there was even stuff happening during the play with some of the penalties that we took that were, in their own way, undisciplined.

That is on us. We had power-play opportunities early in the game that we didn’t make good on. That could’ve been the difference in the game there.

There are a lot of things that happen in a game like this tonight that make the difference a little bit one way or the other. They got the edge on us here today. We have to get out on the road and get a win.

On the team’s push at the end:

It was a really good sign for our team that we didn’t just go away. We made it interesting there at the end. I liked that the crowd got back into it and supported us to the end.

It is too big of a hole to come back from, but there is the fact that we were right there, made it interesting, and it gave us an opportunity to look at some things such as six-on-five and things like that. You get a chance to get look at that and get some reps at it.

Obviously, we didn’t like how we handled that third period to give them the extra cushion.

On the play of the Matthews line with Bunting’s return:

I thought they were good. They had some good shifts and good opportunities. It was a big goal that they scored for us. Auston earns the puck back for us, Mitch makes the play, and Bunts finishes.

They got another one for us there in the third period. That is really good for their confidence.

On the confidence in the team’s ability to bounce back:

I think we just have to take confidence in the things that we did well, the fact that we were right there, and it is really obvious what the difference is in the game today. If you look at a lot of the elements of our game and how close it was at five on five, you have the belief you can turn that.

You know it is going to be tough. There is not a lot separating the teams. You have to be sharp, disciplined, and committed shift to shift. We have had a really good taste now through two hockey games of what we are in for in terms of the series. You know it is going to be tough. We’ve got to go out on the road and get a win.

On the response from the Lightning’s best players:

They have world-class players. They have a great team, great structure, they’re well-coached, and they have great goaltending. They have world-class players at all positions, whether it is Hedman on the backend or Kucherov and the way he manages things on the power play. You are dealing with those elements.

We have good players, too. I thought our good players were good here today. We are going to need them to continue to get better through this series.