LEAFS 6, JETS 3 — WHAT THE MAPLE LEAFS SAID: “(William Nylander is) finding open spots; the puck is coming to him and he’s not missing. So that’s big for our team, it helps us a lot. He’s a big part of this team. So it’s good for everyone.” — MITCH MARNER


On the team bending but not breaking:

Yeah, I think that’s part of it. Obviously, it wasn’t a good second period at all. The back half of the first period wasn’t very good either. We were very opportunistic here. It started with a great start. We get up 2-0 — it could have been four or five there with a little more luck around the net — but they had their push. We didn’t seem to have very good legs in that second period at all, but we took advantage of the chances when we got there to give ourselves a lead and then our third period was our best period. We had to take care of that lead and I thought did a really good job.

On Nylander’s recent play:

He just looks really confident and he’s feeling it. His linemates have been good around him and he’s been making plays to them and they’ve been making plays to him. He’s putting himself in good spots. He’s feeling it and he’s making good on his chances. It’s been fun to watch him here.

On if he’s ever seen Nylander lack confidence:

No, not in himself, but it’s one thing to have confidence in yourself off the ice and you’re feeling good off the ice. Then the game starts and it’s just not really happening for you, you’re not really overly involved in the game and that in itself can make you lose confidence. He just hasn’t had any lulls in his game. That’s been the nicest thing to see is he’s just been on it every shift and it’s not just the offensive pieces, it’s winning puck battles and coming up with loose pucks all over the ice and keeping himself on offence and putting his linemates in good spots. Obviously, the chemistry with John has been very good there with him as well and Kerfoot also has played outstanding too.

On what about the team allows them to rally when things look like they’re turning for the opposition:

I don’t know what to say about it. It was a game — like I said, it looked like we just didn’t have any legs. Like maybe New Year’s got the best of us. Then we got a push. I thought Travis Dermott made a game changing play for us coming through the neutral zone. That got us going again and we got out of that second period. We just talked to our guys after the second saying we’re in a really good spot here, let’s clean ourselves off and go out here and take care of this third period and I thought we did that. All four lines and all six D contributed, Freddie was solid in net in that third and we get out of here with another two points.


On the team getting off to a good start tonight:

I thought we were better in the third, actually. I thought we really pulled together there and made it hard on them. Especially because they were obviously trying to come back in the game with them being down. So, I thought we did a really good job in the third. Again, we were really sharp early on and obviously made really good defensive plays. Obviously, it was a lot of shots but not a lot of danger, I think.

On his teammates helping him see most of Winnipeg’s shots on goal:

They’re one of those teams that likes to get a lot of shots on net and see what happens on the rebounds, but I thought we did a good job today.


On what changed from the second to third period in tonight’s game:

I thought we were giving them too much time and space — especially their big guys — giving them too much time and space through the neutral zone, making plays. When our game is going well, we’re limiting those chances through odd-man rushes, we’re getting back, we’re helping out our D. I think we did that better in the second half. We got results from it. In the third, I think our thirds have been pretty good here in these recent games. I think we’re not sitting back; we just keep the pedal down. We keep pushing it’s something we’ve got to keep doing.

On Nylander’s recent play:

He’s finding open spots; the puck is coming to him and he’s not missing. So that’s big for our team, it helps us a lot. He’s a big part of this team. So it’s good for everyone.


On his two goals tonight:

Yeah, I mean, the first one was a great play by [Brooks] forechecking the goalie. I just turned around and threw it at the net. I was a little blessed that it went in. The second was just a great pass from [Kerfoot] backdoor. I just had to put it in.

On his ability to find open space as the keys to his two goals:

Yeah, of course. The first was kind of off the forecheck. With the other one, [Kerfoot] could have maybe shot too or passed it. I was just trying to be an option for him there.


On what he has seen from Nylander:

I think he’s just doing a good job in all three zones and then making really good plays with the puck, obviously. I think he’s very underrated with how strong he is on the puck. He does a really good job on the boards and down low in the offensive zone, creating space and finding his line mates and the open man. And then I think he’s just doing a really good job getting through the middle the ice, having good timing to be open around the net and finishing plays off in the middle of the ice and being in and around the net. Doing a really good job at finding ways to score, not just always when you’ve got open looks, but when you’ve got to find second and thirds or ugly ones around there.

On Andersen’s play tonight:

They put a lot of pucks at the net. I think we had a really good first period and then obviously a really slow start to the second and Freddie really kept it tight. Obviously, we gave up a couple of goals, they got one of them off the power play, but we were then able to recapture the lead and do a lot of good things and really possess the puck really well, I thought. At the start of the third, Freddie made some big saves. We probably gave up a little bit too much that we would have liked in the first few minutes. Everyone stuck with it and then cleaned it up and controlled the play a lot in their half of the ice, which, especially with the lead, you want to do. But, no question, he’s been our backbone here.

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