Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning that improved the team’s record to 3-2-0.
On the team pulling the game out at the end:
We stayed with it. I was happy to see our guys get rewarded. I thought we had played a good game. Even in the first period, we played a good period.
The goalie playing the way that he was, and Tampa playing as hard as they were, you thought maybe the time was going to run out for us. But I was glad to see the guys get rewarded. I thought we played a good game here.
On Max Domi breaking through in the third period:
I am hoping it allows him to just relax. To me, that is the biggest takeaway in the game. I thought Max had a great game even before making those plays, but you can just see that pucks came to him in good spots. He moved his feet. That is what he does. He is a playmaker.
It was great to see those guys connect. It was great to see a young guy like Knies get a couple at an important time. For Max to come through for the team at that time was huge.
On Matthew Knies sticking with it in the early stages of the season and finding a way through offensively:
Just the fact that he hasn’t gotten down on himself… It probably hasn’t gone the way that he would want it to. A lot of guys are probably in that boat, but he hasn’t gotten down on himself. He has just kind of stayed with it. He is pretty even-keeled.
Just like our game today, it was just a case of staying with it, not getting too high, not getting too low, or anything like that. When his moment comes, be ready for it. He was.
On Joseph Woll stepping up after he was called on following the Ilya Samsonov pull:
Outstanding. These are not easy times, right? Coming into a game like that, really, there is no margin for error. For him to stand his ground the way that he did was great.
He has been great. I thought he played well in the start that he had. In practice this week, he was outstanding and competitive. To see him step in and do the job for our guys tonight was really huge. It is another young guy coming up in a big moment for us.
On whether Woll is making the case for more starts than anticipated:
We will see. He was scheduled to play in Washington anyway. He is definitely going to go next game. We will just keep building and stacking up good days. That has been the message to him.
To me, he took advantage of every practice, every shot, and every rep that he had all week. He looked great. He kind of sent a message to the group that he is hungry. Because of that work, he was ready for tonight even though he wasn’t supposed to play.
That is a great sign for a young player. I am really happy for him.
On whether the hope is that Woll pushes Ilya Samsonov into a competition for starts between the pipes:
Well, he is pushing. That is it. That is what you want. You want everybody pushing one another. That is what we’ve got.
On the decision to pull Samsonov early in the game:
You can’t let in three goals on four shots. That is it.
On the Knies – Kampf – Domi line coming through for the team:
We mixed things up a little bit tonight trying to spark something and look at different things. I did feel like that line was coming.
I made the decision to go down to three lines. In fact, I actually thought Holmberg gave the fourth line a lot tonight. I thought those guys were good, but I just sort of lost them with some of the special teams and playing from behind. I got into a three-line rhythm.
It was because I felt that line was coming. It was giving us good shifts. I needed to use them. The minutes of Matthews and Tavares’ lines were really climbing. We really needed to rely on others. That is progress for our team — to be able to rely on others and have them come through in a big moment.
On what a big win like this could mean for the team as it looks to gain traction early in the season:
It should be huge for the reasons I just mentioned. It is Max Domi, Matthew Knies, Joe Woll, and our penalty kill at a time when our PK let in a couple of quick ones in the first period. It really gets tested in the second period with the back-to-back kills. It was a bit of a 5-on-3 there. The penalty kill steps up.
I think there are a lot of really good moments in the game. It is a really good team win. Even if you don’t get the win tonight and the points, there is still a lot to like about our game here similar to Florida. Maybe you can tolerate moral victories early in the season, but it is about results and points, of course. When comparing our games on home ice and how we played in these two road games, we played substantially better.
In fact, the games that we played in Florida and here tonight are not your typical October games. These are fast, competitive games here on this trip so far. I have liked how our team has responded to that.