Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild that improved the Leafs’ record to 12-5-5.
On the keys to victory tonight:
Playing with the lead again. Playing with the lead on the road gives our team confidence and belief. Obviously, it allows us to just play really smart defensively.
We got outstanding goaltending tonight here. I am not sure where the stats will line up for him today. They don’t tell the whole story. Matt was excellent from the drop of the puck.
The guys competed hard and scored timely goals.
On Calle Järnkork’s fit on a line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner:
I thought he was good. I thought he had good energy today. He scored a big goal for us, obviously, by being around the net. I thought he was good.
I thought John and Mitch were really good today. I think no matter who was playing with them, they would have had a good night. I thought that line did a good job for us.
I liked the contributions we got from each line, to be honest with you.
On the 20 blocked shots in the game:
Guys are finding a way. It is what you have to do. At the end there, I don’t think Rasmus Sandin has ever been on the ice in the NHL with the goalie out. You have guys playing in different spots and finding a way. Everybody is contributing and doing their part, whether it is blocking shots or chipping pucks out.
They haven’t been the prettiest wins, but guys are finding a way and competing. That is exactly what you are asking of your group when you are going through what you are: to set yourself up for success to win a game. We have done that.
The guys have just flat-out competed to make sure we get the points.
On William Nylander scoring the game-winning goal the day after Börje’s passing:
It is great. It is definitely very fitting. Even in our game the other night, it’s game 21, and we win 2-1. Pontus Holmberg scores his first NHL goal as the game-winner. It is outstanding.
Wearing the patch tonight was a real nice touch for them to pull it together so quickly. He is and has been in our thoughts.
On whether these kinds of character wins help the team in the long run:
Absolutely, it does. Every game is winnable. We have a good enough team and we are deep enough that every game is winnable. Don’t make excuses. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Just go out, compete, and play. Adjust your game if you need to.
The confidence we are getting from our goaltending really is fueling a lot of things for our team. We just feel like we can win no matter what. All of those pieces have come together here. We just have to stay with it.
On Matt Murray’s performance and biggest saves in the game:
The one that saves the game at the end is massive, but there was one early in the game where there was a scramble and they had two or three shots in succession all around the crease. All of a sudden, there is a guy who is 6’5 and sticks his leg out there to make a huge save. The reaction from our bench was that a lot of guys had disbelief. They had the sense it was going in, and all of a sudden, it doesn’t.
Those are the types of saves that give your team confidence. “Okay, we can win this game.” That is the one that stood out to me. That was early in the game. He didn’t look back from there.
On whether there is an explanation for the strong months of November for the second straight season:
Not really. I don’t think there is. Each November and each game, for that matter, is different.
At this time right now, we are going through a lot as a team. We have guys that are stepping up on the backend for us. Both the D and the forwards are making contributions to help. We’ve talked about the goaltending. It has all given us a chance. No matter what we are going through, the guys still believe. We have to do it again tomorrow.
On a third meeting with the Penguins this month tomorrow in Pittsburgh:
We talked about it the first time back in Toronto that we were going to see them three times in November. Here is our third time. Let’s get on the plane, get out to Pittsburgh, get a good sleep, and be ready to do it again tomorrow.