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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres which improved the team’s record to 42-22-9.

On Auston Matthews scoring 60 for the second time in his career:

He has had an incredible season and has scored in different ways. I am happy for him to get that accomplishment again this season.

He does so much for our team. It is more than just the goals. For him to get to that is great.

If you are not going to get it at home, this is probably second best. I loved the way the fans acknowledged it, too.

On John Tavares scoring the game-winning goal in his 1,100th career game:

I didn’t know it was his 1,100th game until after the game when Gio welcomed him to the club. That was nice of Gio to do that after he had welcomed Brodie to the 900 club.

It is terrific. It was a big goal for us at the time. It was a goal we have come to expect from John in that space. When he gets that puck in the high slot, he has an unbelievable knack for finding the corner or finding the post and in. He has done that a lot.

To do it on a milestone night is great to see.

On the team’s performance in the win:

Lots of things I really liked in the game, and some that I certainly did not like. The things that I liked are what we will focus on the most tonight.

I thought we defended really hard. When I say that, I thought we defended a little too much. The game was a little chaotic. Especially in the first two periods, the majority of what looked like their scoring chances didn’t get to our net because of our guys’ second and third efforts. We got sticks on pucks. We got bodies in lanes. We collapsed to the net. We killed a lot of chances before they could become really dangerous.

I really liked that effort and competitiveness from our team, and that led right into our penalty kill, which was really good tonight. That type of urgency is excellent to see. It can be the foundation of a lot of wins, especially when you get the type of goaltending that we got from Sammy tonight.

[Sammy] was unbelievable, especially in that third period when they started to get to our net a little bit more. He was terrific. To that end, we will take the two points and get out of here.

On whether there is something specific that has allowed Ilya Samsonov to turn his season around:

No, other than that he is just a talented goalie who has found himself. He believes in himself. He has worked at it.

I talked to Curtis Sanford after the game tonight. Nevermind the big saves, he just thought technically that this was his best game of the season with how he moved in the net and how he was in control and in position to make those big saves because of how he was managing the game and his depth — all of those things that are so important that I don’t know much about, but when they show me and talk to me, it makes sense. He was really good in that area tonight, so he gave himself every opportunity to be in a position to make the big saves when we needed him to.

In the first two periods, our guys did a really nice job of settling down some of the chaos in the game and not letting the pucks get to our net with the second and third efforts from our guys defending.

On the group’s improved efforts on the penalty kill recently:

We have spent a lot of time on it. It was required and probably long overdue.

The guys have really rallied. We have made some adjustments to it. We are killing a little bit differently in some areas. The guys have bought into it and adjusted on the fly with limited practice time.

So much of the penalty kill comes down to will and competitiveness. I liked a lot of that area of our game at five-on-five, and I thought it bled right into our penalty kill, too. That was great to see.

When you are doing those things, especially on the penalty kill with six kills tonight, it is a major part of the game that allows us to hold the lead all throughout the game, be in a comfortable position, and not allow momentum to swing back and forth. It is so important.

We have made some strides in the last few games, but it is still a small sample. We need to really stay with it, continue to improve, clean it up, and continue to get contributions from multiple people.

We have trusted different guys with it here. We are going to get healthy eventually, and other guys are going to come in and help us in that area, but the guys we have called on have done a really nice job.