Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: How good do you feel for Ilya getting his first tonight? I notice Nik Antropov working with him, have you had some of the other coaches trying to keep his confidence going?
Sheldon Keefe: I feel great for him. First of all, he’s worked extremely hard, not just in our games, and he’s had a ton of chances and he’s really worked, he’s maintained his good defensive play. He’s continued to work at his game in practices and off days, development days. It’s nice to see him get rewarded, for sure. You like to see that.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: John Tavares was talking about the mindset coming out in the third wanting to have your best period of the season. What did you see from the team that allowed them to eventually grab the upper hand against a quality opponent tonight?
Sheldon Keefe: That was our mindset. It was more just really trying to put at the forefront the fact that it’s an important game, one we want to find a way to the right side of, and pushed our guys just to have a real good start to the period. I thought we had played a fine game, but I don’t think we had any real strong pushes and we wanted that. I thought we got it. Just thought we had a little extra jump to start the period.
I thought we caught them on their heels a little bit and we attacked a lot quicker in transition. All those kind of things really helped us there. I thought we were really good defensively as well, even when they got the puck there at the start of the third. We created a lot of turnovers and helped us transition. That was a big part of it. Obviously, Justin Holl’s slapshot had a lot to do with it too.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: Just the way Freddie held you guys in certain points, just talk about his game tonight.
Sheldon Keefe: I thought he was good. Obviously, he wants to have the first shot back. Took him a little bit to get going in the game as it did our team, but he was solid after that. A lot of shots coming from the point and from the walls, a lot of stuff gets thrown in, a lot of the traffic makes it more challenging against this team. At the same time, I think like we’ve been talking about all offseason and all through camp, our job, as a team, is to help Fred out and do the job in front of them. I thought we did that today. There was a lot of things that I’d like to do better so we can control play a little bit better, more like we did at the start of the third period. But again, defensively today, we just didn’t give them much at all.
In fact, I had this as the lowest number of scoring chances we gave up in a game all season. Despite some of the volume I thought our guys did a really good job of protecting the middle of the ice, not giving anything up odd-man. The first goal they got in behind us a little bit right at the start of the game, but that was really it. They never got behind us again off the rush. Those were some of the things we talked about as keys for the game coming in and I thought our players stuck with it. And then Fred was solid for us.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Sheldon, you mentioned the whole slapshot like what are you thinking when you see that? Do you see that as a sign of a really confident guy? He was telling us he looked off William, he saw him beaver tapping a bit in the corner of his eye but went for it. What do you see when you watch that?
Sheldon Keefe: He and Derms, it’s just kind of a parting of the seas and, in both cases, the defenders and probably the goaltender aren’t expecting them to shoot like that and take them on. Not often you’re going to beat Carey Price with a clean shot like that, but obviously they did. Two great shots to the top of the net and massive goals for us.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: How is the team dealing with these types of games, tighter games but finding a way to get the win?
Frederik Andersen: I think the patience in our game, that confidence that we don’t have to force it and let the plays develop and really stick to our process and system. Just wait and not force anything that’s not there, that patience is really paying off.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: You see these guys in practice all the time, Travis Dermott, Justin Holl, did you know they had shots like that and the confidence to go out there and beat a goalie like Carey Price?
Frederik Andersen: Yeah I think both of them have great shots. It was probably a little more time and space there for Justin’s goal and he just took advantage and said thank you so it was a great shot.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: The North Division seems to have all the goal scorers, how tough is it for goalies to know that every team night after night is coming at you?
Frederik Andersen: It’s another part of the job description I guess. I think every team is going to try and limit their time and space and for our players to gain as much space as they can and challenge their goalie. We’ve got a lot of great talent up front too so I don’t think we’re too worried about that just have to keep the confidence that we can score goals too. I think we’ve done a really good job of keeping them to the outside, especially tonight. They like to shoot the puck a lot and everyone kept them far away from the net so helped me out a lot.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Talk about Freddie and what he’s meant to you on nights when maybe you don’t have your best game for a couple of periods to get you going, to keep you in game. What’s he doing that you’ve been liking?
Justin Holl: Totally. He’s making a lot of saves. He’s making critical saves, too. Timely saves when we really need them and he’s allowing us to find our game and he’s allowing us to catch fire at the right time. I really can’t say enough good things about what he’s done for our squad. He’s feeling it, and it’s really great for us.
Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: I’m guessing scoring is not on your mind when you start a game but how good does that feel, especially when it’s been a while?
Justin Holl: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s not my number one role but it feels good to contribute offensively and, like you said, it has been a while. It’s actually been a while since I scored on a goalie. I think my last one was an empty-netter and then it was a while previously before that one. It feels good and I’m just happy we were able to get the win.
Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: Any joking or chirping about the length of the goal drought?
Justin Holl: Uh, no. Everyone’s been pretty nice about it.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Obviously, we see tonight the importance of guys picking it up a bit when Auston and Mitch aren’t on the scoresheet but what does it mean to yourself to contribute like this and see Ilya score his first and Dermott get his first in over a year as well?
Justin Holl: Absolutely, I think that’s good for our group because we obviously rely heavily on our star players and they’re bringing it every night but on the odd night that they’re held in check or call it what you want, it’s nice to see some secondary scoring. That’s the mark of really good teams.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Now that we’ve seen the shot can we expect to see it again sometime?
Justin Holl: Yeah, exactly. I’ve uncorked it now. There’s no turning back.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Can you take us through the thought process – you’ve got the puck, you have time, you’re staring down Carey Price, what are you seeing as that unfolds?
Justin Holl: Yeah, JT gave me the puck. Really nice pass. I was able to find some space and I wound up and right when I would up I saw Willie out of the corner of my eye beaver-tailing, so as I came down I was like, ‘oh man, Willie’s going to want this biscuit,’ you know? But it went in and all’s well that ends well.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: The team’s relied so much on you and [Marner} for offence this year. I’m wondering what it does for the team and how nice it is to see a lot of guys get their first tonight?
Auston Matthews: I think it’s great. It just builds confidence throughout the lineup. Dermy’s been out for a bit, he comes back, scores a big, big goal for us. Holl as well. Mickey gets his first. I think that’s just all really positive stuff for us. Those guys start feeling it, get confidence, they start rolling. It’s great. It was a huge win for us tonight as well.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: How did you see the game play out in general? It looked a little bit like last game, it took you guys a little bit to get going and then you found your legs in the final period.
Auston Matthews: I thought the first 10, we kind of weathered the storm there. Then we started to get some opportunities and then there was just periods in the game there where they put their foot on the gas and we were back on our heels and vice versa. That’s a good team over there. They’ve got a lot of depth, great goaltending and they play really tight defensively so I think it’s a testament to our game tonight and just sticking with it, couple of big goals by our guys and hanging on there in the end.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Ilya got his first of the season but we know he’s had his chances. What sort of offensive upside do you see for him?
Auston Matthews: He’s so fast. I think you see it every night. His ability to get around defenders and get in there on the forecheck first. He’s had plenty of instance this season where he’s just blown by defence and he’s hit crossbars or the boys made good save. It’s definitely frustrating at times for sure. It’s really nice to see him break through tonight. He’s a big part of this team. He’s plays a really solid role for us. It’s always good to see those guys get going and hopefully this leads to more and more goals for him