HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On if he felt more concern or excitement as the game went on tonight:
Zero excitement. Concern — I think concern is probably a stretch, but disappointing. The fact that you had a chance here today, we’re set up again in the third period and right from the drop of the puck in the third we were signing goals. It seems like we’re just lacking some confidence in those situations, almost like we were waiting or expecting something bad to happen. It’s not what we want to be about. Clearly when we play like that, we’re not a very good team. So we need to get on our toes and get our swagger and get our confidence, I think. It’s just crazy how quickly things turn, right? We’re sitting here on Friday and played like a fragile group there. I thought there’s chunks of the game I didn’t like either, obviously. Beside the second period it wasn’t very good. I look back to Monday and I look at those first two periods, especially on Monday, and just probably the two best periods we’ve played since I’ve been here, defensively especially. Just took pride in giving the opposition nothing and seemed to be enjoying that. Our first parts of the second period we’re on our way to doing the same kind of thing. We just let it get away there. After we get our two points, of course, that’s what we need, but we’ve got to be a whole lot better than that in those situations.
On wat can restore the team’s confidence:
Time, probably, is the biggest thing. We’ve got to get through this. As I said, it goes all the way back to Monday and you’ve got these turns and now you’re the team that can’t protect the third period lead. Before this week started, I think we were 15-1 going into the third period in my time here. So it wasn’t really an issue. We had one game in Calgary that got away on us, but other than that we were a team that does a really good job in the third period. So, not that far removed from it. We’re also not that far removed from the great efforts in Nashville, great effort in Dallas, battling and finding a way against a gritty Ottawa team, two great periods against our rival, Florida. Not that far removed from it — it turns quickly. Going to have to get it back to the right side of it because Saturday night in Montreal is going to be a challenge for us.
On the play of Clifford and Campbell:
I thought Cliff gave us lots of energy. Really great to see. He’s a lot better skater and has a lot more skill than I think that even showed up on video or was advertised. He was engaged, involved in the game. On the first goal he showed that he’s not quite up to speed on our D-zone coverage on the first goal against there. I just thought he had lots of energy and it was really good to get him going. I thought Campbell, really especially looking at the second period where we — by the end of that second period, he hadn’t had much work in the second at all and, all of a sudden, we gave them two or three really good looks. They were good and big saves, which I thought was really good and helpful to give us the confidence going into the third period that it was going to be okay and build off that. That’s what we were hoping would happen. It was disappointing, but happy we could get him his first win.
On the growth of Matthews’ overall game:
Yes, it’s a really good question when you say overall because I think that’s really what’s happened here. The offence has been there and will always be there. His complete game is not getting enough attention. This guy’s — when the puck turns over you really focus in on him, he’s digging in. His first three strides are real quick, lots of urgency, he’s understanding the value of having the puck and getting it back. He’s really leading the way for us in a lot of those regards. So I thought the first half of this game, especially, it was a clinic from in that regard. He’s feeling it. So, happy he gets to 40, happy he’s filling the net the way that he is, but he’s also really, really figuring out the other side of it and doing it consistently.
On if Nylander is available tomorrow in Montreal:
Unsure about that. He’s not going to travel with us tonight. So we’ll have to just see how he wakes up tomorrow.
On if Campbell will start tomorrow in Montreal:
Still to be determined. We’re going to talk about that on the plane.
On the Liljegren-Sandin pairing tonight:
I just thought that they played really good hockey. They moved the puck really well. Obviously, we’re being a little careful with Lilly and trying to ease him into it. I have to watch the video back, but I thought he was really good, confident. Some real good transitions, moved the puck with authority, didn’t seem to make many or any mistakes that stood out to me. Sandin, of course, we’ve come to expect that, he’s been playing a bit more. Liljegren was really good for us so it’s a positive step for him and us.
On Jason Spezza’s third period goal:
Yeah, that was an elite goal. He has that ability. He still hasn’t lost that. He also made a few plays in tight in different spots on the power play — especially with this team in Anaheim, that pressures the puck on the penalty kills really better than anybody in the League that we’ve seen. He’s under a lot of pressure, he made some plays with how the protects the puck in tight that elite players can do. Regardless of age you don’t lose that ability, he’s an elite player in that sense. He showed on that goal. It was a big-time goal for us. It’s a shame that it wasn’t the winner.
JACK CAMPBELL (FIRST WIN AS A MAPLE LEAF)
On the team’s play:
What a resilient group. That’s a tough game when you give up the lead like that and it’s unacceptable on my end to do that, but as a team you’ve got to appreciate the resilience and came right back and big goal in overtime. So, big two points and now we’re getting ready for one tomorrow.
On his performance tonight:
You guys might have got me on the nervous part. I was a little nervous the first period. But I was just really excited, and I think when you care a lot you get a little nervous, so I got it out in the first. The boys played really well in front of me. Anytime you score five that should be a win — anytime. I’ll clean up my game but just really excited that the team got two points and moving on to a big game tomorrow.
KYLE CLIFFORD (FIRST GAME AS A MAPLE LEAF)
On tonight’s performance:
I thought we gave it back a little bit there in the third. Obviously, we want to lock the game down and kind of suck the life out of them, but it’s good to get the win. Not the way we want to do it, but we’ll pick up two points and that’s what’s important. We’re moving up in the standings.
On starting tonight’s game:
Yeah, I didn’t expect that. Special moment, but once the game gets going, you just kind of get back into your routine and block all the distractions out.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL, 3 ASSISTS)
On scoring his 40th goal of the season:
It means a lot. I’ve been fortunate to play with some really great players and on any given night — I’ve said it before, you just look up and down the lineup, we’ve got great players, great skill and it doesn’t really matter who you’re playing with, you’re going to play with a really good player and a guy that’s going to make plays. So I think it’s a big tribute to those guys that I play with every night.
On what the team takes from tonight after surrendering another third period lead:
You just take the good and bad, obviously. We don’t want to get in that position, and it’s been a position that we’ve been kind of falling into quite a bit. So kind of want to snap out of that. But obviously, we’re happy to take the two points and move forward. I think it’s something that we’ve got to keep in the back of our minds that we don’t want to let it happen anymore.
JOHN TAVARES (2 GOALS, 1 ASSIST)
On just trying to get himself open for Marner on the power play:
Yeah, exactly. We talk a lot about power play and being around the net and he always talks about just trying to find lanes because you know he’s always kind of setting everything up with his ability to manipulate the opponent and make them make them think one thing and open up the seam for another. So just a great play by him and a great play by [Spezza] too, getting in the corner, winning a big battle and creating the opportunity.
On the team finding a way to win in overtime after a tough third period:
We just had to stay with it. Obviously, not a very good third period, not ideal and something we have to clean up to get the results we want. But, certainly, I think just putting our head down and just trying to go out for the next shift and do the best we can. Obviously, a big goal by Spezz. Unfortunately they got one that kind of just had eyes, but we stuck with it, found a way, drew a penalty and got a big goal.