LEAFS 7, DEVILS 4: WHAT THE LEAFS SAID: “I thought we started off really well. I thought the first period we had the puck a lot, created some chances that didn’t go in. All the lines were contributing tonight. So, I think for us, it was just a matter of time. … They made some unbelievable plays to feed me the puck tonight and I just tried to put it in.” –AUSTON MATTHEWS.

HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE

On Rasmus Sandin’s play:

Well, the biggest thing about [Sandin’s] game is his poise. And I think that’s — when you have that it’ll get fazed by where you’re at. He has that in spades, and he showed it again today.

On tonight’s effort:

I liked it. I thought our first period was really good, liked a lot about that. Of course, I liked that we were able to score goals again here today. I didn’t like our second period at all. To me, this has happened to us before where the third period is where the puck ends up in our net, but I actually liked a lot about our third period. The second period, to me, with the puck offensively was one of the worst periods that we’ve had since I’ve been here. I thought we cleaned that up a lot in the third period with how we handled the puck and how we maintained the puck. We just had some breakdowns again where guys got in behind us. We don’t like to see that, but we’d much rather see it in a game like this where we can continue to nail down on it and teach on it rather than whether it’s 0-0 or whatever the case may be where it’s going to really hurt us. Today I think it helps our cause because it’s something defensively to nail down.

On why he has stuck with the Hyman-Matthews-Marner line:

Just feel like there’s some good chemistry going on there. We want to get more time for [Tavares] and [Nylander] to play together. We’re trying to find the right fit there. Obviously, we tried Engvall with them today. We wanted to get Kerfoot back in the middle and thought there were some pieces of Pierre’s game that could help John and Willy. I really like what we see from that trio with Matthews.

On Jason Spezza reaching the 1,100-game milestone:

To me, the way he approaches the game, he’s a guy who’s 10 years younger every day. He’s got a great passion for the game, it keeps him hungry, it keeps him working every single day. He wants more all the time, he wants more information, he wants more touches in practice, he wants more time with the skills coaches. He’s hungry all the time to stay sharp and continue to work and get better. That really sets the tone for our team.

On what power play minutes can do for Sandin’s confidence:

I would think it would help him. I’ve seen the impact he can make on the power play with that poise and also with his ability to get the puck to the net. He really transformed the power play with us with the Marlies last year when he got healthy early in the season. He started the season on the IR. And then once he got healthy, our power play went from one of the worst in the League to one of the best. I felt pretty strongly that he would be able to give us something there on that second unit today.

ZACH HYMAN (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)

On what was working well tonight:

Well, we were scoring. Still a little frustrating obviously, you don’t want to give up and let them come back in the game at the end there, but huge win for us. Good to get back in the win column.

On the team bouncing back after Sunday’s game in Florida:

I think there were times in the game where we played the right way and dominated play. We got our chances and put them in so that was positive and then seeing Rasmus step up was awesome. He’s a great player so it showed pretty early. He kind of got some confidence there and it was good to see him step up.

MITCH MARNER (2 ASSISTS)

On what the team did well tonight:

I thought we controlled the puck well. I thought we got away from it a little bit in the second, kind of flipping it and trying to chase it more. I thought we did a good job when we had it in the third and in the first. We were calming plays down, we were bringing it back, setting things up and coming as a unit and I think when we do that, we’re a scary team and we’re hard to stop.

On Sandin’s game:

Well, I think his game matches ours very well. You saw tonight, his poise with the puck, his defensive play is top notch and he showed it here tonight. You saw it at World Juniors as well. He’s been impressive to watch. He’s a great player and, you saw it tonight, he made plays, he made stuff happen all over the ice. He’s got a very good head on his shoulders; he plays very well.

AUSTON MATTHEWS (3 GOALS)

On plays with his linemates that led to his hat trick:

I thought we started off really well. I thought the first period we had the puck a lot, created some chances that didn’t go in. All the lines were contributing tonight. So, I think for us, it was just a matter of time. Like you said, they made some unbelievable plays to feed me the puck tonight and I just tried to put it in. 

On tonight’s effort coming after the loss in Florida:

I think we wanted to have a good bounce back game. A little bit of a lull in the second period. Some stuff that I think we’d like to clean up and do better but, all in all, nice to get back in the win column and push forward these last two games.

RASMUS SANDIN (2 ASSISTS)

On returning to the Maple Leafs:

It was a fun game and good to get the win. First one after the call up so it felt good.

On if he’s more comfortable after the season he has had and prior NHL experience:

A little bit. I feel confident out there and I feel like I know all the guys a little bit more, all the staff. So the group is really good and help me in every way the can, so it’s been good I’d say.

On getting a pair of assists in the first period of his first game back:

It’s great. I think my shots weren’t the hardest or it would have been scored on, but they get a stick on it. It’s great to help the team a little bit.

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