Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils which improved the Leafs’ record to 39-17-8.
On the team’s performance over the 60 minutes:
The first period didn’t go great for us. I don’t think it was as bad as the shot clock maybe said, but I liked how we came out and really took over the game in the second period.
It was kind of back and forth through the third. The fact that our guys stuck with it with some key plays — some clutch plays at key times — was really great. A great way to finish the trip.
On the power play scoring a clutch goal late after a tough night in Vancouver:
Key time, and a clutch goal. Loved it.
It is not unlike the way they came out to start the third period in Vancouver and scored that goal. Obviously, it didn’t finish the way we wanted it to, so it is a chance for them to come through for us tonight. They did exactly that.
On what Michael Bunting’s goal could do for his confidence:
You hope he feels good about it, of course, and that it could help take some of the pressure off and help him relax. He has the ability to finish plays like that for sure. Great job putting himself in a good spot. Unbelievable plays by Holl and Kampf to get it there. I loved the finish there.
I had a sense — or a feel, at least — that we needed a goal and this might change the line to put him there. We were going to go with just three lines the rest of the way. We wanted Bunts to be involved in that.
It was a great play on the power-play goal, too, just with the awareness to leave that puck and let it get through to Auston. Two key, great plays for us at an important time to finish the trip.
On Timothy Liljegren’s return to the lineup:
I thought he was good. He looked like himself.
On Ilya Samsonov’s performance:
I thought he was really good. There were a couple of really tough shots early in the game that he came up big on.
Certainly, Jersey was carrying play through the first period there. We were able to tighten up defensively to the point that we kept it to the outside with perimeter shots and shots from distance at the top. I thought he was solid there.
I liked his game. I am still not quite sure how the third one ended up getting in. I know he wasn’t expecting a tip like that.
It is a solid game from him. With the way they move the puck around and change sides on you, it is not an easy team to play against with the danger on the rush and the options that it presents.
It was not an easy game. Great effort by him.
On Sam Lafferty’s performance at 2C:
Huge goal for us in the second period. I thought Lafferty really came alive in the second period. He really started to skate through the neutral zone with the puck. That really got them on their heels a few times.
Obviously, a great play on the goal, and a good play by Will and Jarny to get to the net. That is an important goal for us.
I thought we really saw signs of what Lafferty is capable of in terms of putting the other team on their heels with his speed. He has done that at different times in earlier games with us but more off the puck getting up ice and applying pressure. Today, it was with the puck carrying it through the neutral zone, which is probably a byproduct of him playing at center.
Certainly, he was good, and he was good on faceoffs, too, as a right-handed shot. That was really nice to see. It is not an easy shift available there tonight for any line but certainly for him and the matchups he had to go against. I thought he was really good.