Q. Kristen Shilton, TSN: Where did you see things start to slip away from your group to end up with the result you did tonight?
Sheldon Keefe: I would say towards the end of the first period it started to get away on us. I thought through the first period we could have very easily been up at least two or three nothing with some of them point blank chances that we had and missed. I’m not sure whether that discouraged us or maybe made us think it was going to be a little bit easier night. Don’t know what it was but they had a real strong push coming out of one of the TV timeouts there in the first and I thought we were really disconnected and played tired in the tail end of our shifts for the remainder of the game. We didn’t make good on the chances that we earned in the first period. We had more than enough offence there in the first to blow the game wide open and didn’t capitalize or didn’t go our way. Our game was a mess from there.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: What kind of spin did special teams have tonight? Just one power play in the whole game. I guess a silver lining would be you didn’t take any, but what do you feel about that situation?
Sheldon Keefe: We had our opportunity. I thought our power play, again, that maybe is an area you could look at where things started to go south on us a little bit. We were really disconnected there and just continued that way. We really struggled to string together passes after that, which I found just really bizarre because I thought at the start of the game, the way we were making plays and moving the puck was as good we’ve looked for quite some time. Then it just got away on us there. A lot of things have been going our way here for a long while. Today it didn’t and we didn’t help our own cause. We’ve got to regroup and get ourselves ready for what’s going to be a very difficult three games against Ottawa.
Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: Montreal had over 45 hits. How much do you think their physicality either tired you out or made you get out of sync a little bit?
Sheldon Keefe: Yeah, I think that would be a factor, for sure. I thought the way we started the game and things were coming relatively easy for us off the start and we didn’t make good on it. I think it just allowed them to get into the game and they were probably a little frustrated with the way that the game started and they just started to focus on physicality. I do think that’s part of what just made us tired and had us playing on the back half of our shift tired. We had real long shift lengths and stuff like that where we just couldn’t get off the ice, couldn’t string together passes. I think that was a factor in the game, for sure.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Where’s your satisfaction at with the production you’re getting from the second and third line at 5-on-5?
Sheldon Keefe: I think we’d like to see more for sure. I don’t think we’re satisfied. I don’t think the players would be satisfied with it. That said, I think there are a lot of good things happening, especially when I look at JT’s game defensively in comparison to a year ago or a season ago in terms of how he’s playing, the structure he’s playing with, what he’s not giving up defensively. There’s a trade-off there for sure and he like a lot of other guys on our team are trying to find their way to create offense without giving that defensive stuff up. Last season we were creating a ton with our second line and giving up a ton so we’re trying to find a better balance there and the defensive side of it has been good. Tonight again we didn’t give up very much at all again tonight and we had more than enough offence generated in the first period and we didn’t make good on it and you don’t win in this league by playing one period or three quarters of a period.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Auston mentioned Carey Price’s ability to play the puck on dump-ins disrupts the rhythm. Did you sense that as well?
Sheldon Keefe: Yeah, that’s part of it, but every goalie in the NHL, if you make it easy and give them the puck, they’re going to start the other teams breakouts and it’s hard to forecheck. I think you have to do more with the pressure and the numbers they have in the neutral zone didn’t allow us to place the puck where we’d want it to get a strong forecheck. It’s a combination there with the job they did to clog the neutral zone. It’s not like he was getting out and knocking them down. I thought there were a lot of rolling pucks that came right to him. Especially at the start of the third period that was definitely a factor.
Q. Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star: Just wondering on the Gallagher goal what you saw. There was maybe a wee bit of question that he might have knocked that original shot down with a high stick. Did you see it at all that way?
Frederik Andersen: I think you’re pretty accurate that it was very close to being high. When it’s a play where he knocks it down and then taps it in, I think it’s not reviewable. It is what it is. Obviously, tough bounce at the end, but that happens sometimes unfortunately. We’ve got to move on and get ready for the next one.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: It’s been a while since the team lost in regulation. What do you think the group can take from tonight as you get set for next week’s games?
Frederik Andersen: Sticking with it I think is important. I think the result tonight is obviously not what we liked, but we did some good things. I think in the first period we did have a lot of chances, some posts and some good chances that didn’t go our way. I think we still played a good game, but sometimes, like I said before, they have these type of bounces and we want to try to set us up in a good position where we don’t lose the game in that kind of way. Of course, we’d want to be ahead.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: What made it hard to generate offence against the Canadiens as this game went along tonight?
Mitch Marner: I think we got away from our game plan, composure in our D-zone, staying on too long for offensive chances. Not being able to come back quick enough in our D-zone to help our D break out. Just little mistakes that we talked about that we know we’ve got to get better at. That one sucks to slip away but just got to look forward to Ottawa next.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: [Montreal] came in on a bit of skid. Did you sense more urgency from them tonight or was this more about you guys?
Mitch Marner: I think both teams came off the get-go with urgency. I think as the game went on, we got too cute with it. We got away from what made us successful. We weren’t hard on the forecheck, we weren’t helping each other out on the forecheck and talking to each other. We had shifts where we were getting hemmed in our D-zone, thought we could go on an odd-man rush or an offensive chance and missed our changes and kind of got them on the right side of the puck most times that we were changing on the wrong side of it and give them opportunities.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: From a discipline perspective, you’re happy not taking any penalties but takes away something from your guys’ momentum if you don’t get some power plays.
Auston Matthews: I think in these tight games power play, penalty kills, special teams can really be the difference but like you said, there wasn’t many penalties tonight that were being called. That’s fine, we’ve got to generate our own momentum. I think we did that, especially early on in the first period. I thought we had a really good start and they had their pushback like we expected. It could have really gone either way but letting this one slip away definitely leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: After that good start, what made it tough for the team to generate offence especially in the third period?
Auston Matthews: On our dumps and rims, we just couldn’t keep it away from Price. That’s what really puts him above everybody else in this league. He’s just like a third defenceman back there. He’s breaking pucks down off the glass, rims, chip ins and he’s able to break the puck out. It’s difficult to create offence when we’re not keeping the puck away from him and they’re just breaking out smoothly every time we do get the puck and we chip it in and they do a really good job in the neutral zone. They do force you to throw in and dump pucks in. We just didn’t do a very good job of keeping it away from them and they were able to break out really cleanly. It staggered our offensive movement.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: John, what made it tough to generate offence against the Habs as this game went along tonight?
John Tavares: It was one of those kinds of games. Just seemed like there just wasn’t too much room, just weren’t as in sync. I think maybe it was some of our passes and just being a little bit better connected and executing on two, three plays in a row to be able to open up some open ice and get some looks. I think we can do a better job getting to the net.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: When two teams play together in short order we’re expecting adjustments. Did they show you anything different tonight that stood out?
John Tavares: They came in with a sense of urgency with the way the last few games have gone for them. They played hard, just tried to play physical. Obviously, we’re aware of some of the things that we do well. That’s part of it, we’ve seen it throughout the season so far. We have to find a way to break through.