Jon Cooper addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
On giving up a 2-0 lead:
We are not really making them earn it. We are kind of giving it to them. Two too-many-men penalties were momentum killers. One they scored on. That is on us.
We got a power play there, we took a penalty to take ourselves off, and we give up two 4-on-4 goals. You can consider four-on-four special teams in a sense, and tonight we lost that battle again.
Some games we are winning it and some games we are not. Tonight, I thought it was too many mistakes. Once again, they ended up in the back of our net. It’s unfortunate. That game was there for the taking for us. We let it slip through our fingers.
It is on us. That is the most simplified way I can put it.
On the missed opportunities on the 5-on-3 power play:
You are not going to score every time. Did we have some good looks on the 5-on-3? We did. Would it have been great to get that next one? Sure it would have.
I have said this time and time again: When we get a lead like that, keep them out of your net. We didn’t need any more goals. We just needed to keep them out. We didn’t do that.
On giving up so many four-on-four goals in the series and whether it’s going to be a focal point in practice:
I am not sure that is the first focal point of the season when a team is practicing. Remarkably, we have played it a lot in this series. I don’t even think we are leading the 4-on-4 race in the playoffs. I think other series are playing more than us.
It has been odd that there has been so much. Whether it is 4-on-4s, 5-on-3s, 5-on-4s, I have never seen that in the playoffs with the way that it is. And please do not think this is an excuse. It is not by any means. It is just different than what we are used to.
I think Toronto, after two periods, had three 5-on-5 shots. If you are going to tell me, “Hey Coop, we are going to hold Toronto to three 5-on-5 shots in two periods of hockey…” Now, fact-check that, but I think that is what it was.
But special teams are part of the game. If any situation you are put in, you have to win that situation. We didn’t tonight.
On the team’s mood and confidence going back home for Game 6:
We are here to win the series. We lost a game tonight. We let this one slip away. That is on us. But we haven’t let the series slip away. We let a game slip away. That is how you look at it.
You have to play it game by game. In our run here, I think we have had one elimination game. What was the tell-tale sign of the elimination game? We didn’t give up any goals.
I am not saying you have to do that again, but that has to be a mindset of ours that at times tonight got away from us.