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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche which improved the team’s record to 33-16-8.

On the keys to victory in the league’s toughest building:

Our power play striking as it did in the first period to cut their lead in half gave us hope and gave us a chance.

It is a different type of game than the ones we’ve played recently. Frankly, I thought for most of the game, we were pretty overwhelmed, but we didn’t break.

While they had a lot of those pushes, our guys were competing hard, blocking shots, boxing out, and fighting through fatigue. That gives you a chance. You don’t allow them to really blow the game open.

We just stayed with it. We got a great push at the end of the second period that set us up in the third.

Again, they tie it in the third, but we don’t break. We don’t panic. We just stay with it. When the power play gets its opportunity, it makes good.

It is a pretty good recipe to beat a really good team on the road at the end of a long trip. I am thrilled for the guys that they get to leave here with two points. They worked extremely hard and played extremely well throughout this trip. We weren’t at our best and playing against a very strong team in a very tough building. To get rewarded feels good. I think it is well-earned.

On whether the confidence from the winning streak allowed the team to bend not but break:

I think there is just a lot of belief in what they are doing and belief in the group. Obviously, Sammy battled real hard in the net tonight. He gave the guys hope.

At the end of a long trip where a lot of things have been going our way, you are going to need a night where the goalie is going to have to make some saves and give you reasons to continue to dig in.

There was a lot of fatigue tonight — some of it, I am sure, is because of the trip, and some is inflicted because of the opponent, how they play, and how they assert themselves.

I am thrilled for Bert. He has had a lot of scoring chances and a lot of shots that haven’t gone in for him for quite a period of time. To see them fall on a night like this… Something like that is how you get the win.

On what the hat trick could do for Bertuzzi going forward:

It could only help, of course. When he scored his first one in a long while before the road trip, that is where it sort of started. It builds to one like this.

If you look at the types of goals that he scored tonight, he has been getting those shots and those chances all season long. The puck hasn’t fallen for him.

That is why you just stay with it. We have increased his opportunities to get even more of those types of looks. We are thrilled for him.

Those are the kinds of goals we have come to expect from him throughout his career. I talked about it a couple of weeks ago. I believe this guy is a gamer. Those pucks are going to come for him. He is going to do all that he can to come through for us.

I am thrilled it happened for him on his birthday on a night when we weren’t at our best and needed that type of effort.

On how much the power-play time has helped Bertuzzi’s confidence:

I am sure it has helped. I don’t think he has had a shortage of those types of chances and touches. He has had those in abundance at even strength.

But I am sure it is all connected and all part of it. You can never really put your finger on something like that. Either way, I am glad it is going in and I am glad they went in on a night like tonight when we needed them.

On Bertuzzi’s fit on the top power-play unit:

He has the skill set to play the net front. He and John Tavares are very similar in that skill set. John has done a very good job for us in that net front spot and has for years. The power play has been outstanding for us all season long whether it is John or Bert there, but I think there is a very similar skill set and tenacity around the net.

You are thrilled for Bert. He has fought it for a while and it hasn’t fallen for him. For them to start going in is a great sign.

On how Morgan Rielly has played since rejoining the group:

I think he has done a good job. It is tough to come in when the team is rolling as it is. As much as he has played in the league a ton and is a great player and defenseman for us — and an important leader — it is tough to come in a time like that.  It is also tough to miss five games and then jump on the treadmill midstream.

We have tried to ease him back in and manage the minutes a little bit — less than what he would be most accustomed to. Some of it is because of him. Some of it is because some of the other guys have done a great job.

He is an important guy for us. With the nature of why he left our lineup, I think his fingerprints are all over this streak that we have put together and how the team has played. It started with him.

I am thrilled the guys haven’t taken a step back with him coming in.