Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: Your first three game losing streak this year. Where’s the team at, but also obviously considering you’re still first overall?

Sheldon Keefe: I think we’re just going through it here a little bit. I think every team goes through little stretches like this, but I think there’s lots for us to take away from it. I think it’s obviously a good thing for us that in all three games we’re right there, we’re in every game and we could have very easily gotten points out of each. That’s a good sign that we’re still right there. That said, I think what really clearly comes out of these games for me is usually games are close, the division is extremely competitive, that’s a very good team we’re playing against tonight, but you either have winning habits or you have losing habits. When you have losing habits you end up giving up free goals and then when you’re not scoring enough on the other side of it, you lose games. We’ve got to get back to having consistent winning habits and we’ll find that things will end up working out in our favour in the end. It’s obviously very disappointing that after three fantastic, perhaps three of our of best games of the season in Edmonton, that we’ve followed it up here now with, not poor performances, we’ve played fine in each game, but just not doing enough of the little things well that end up getting you to find ways to win games. 

Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Can you give me an example of a winning habit or two, as opposed to a losing habit or two? What do you mean by that?

Sheldon Keefe: A winning habit simply, for me, is when you don’t have a play, there’s nothing happening and force a play through the middle of the ice versus just moving the puck forward and putting it to safe place and get structure around it. It cost us a goal in Vancouver and essentially cost us the game, and then tonight very similar play. We’re stuck in the neutral zone and we’re tired and we turn it over. When we need to get fresh guys on we’re caught in a line change and then you don’t have any structure coming back in your end, the puck’s in your net. Little things like that that when you’re not scoring enough to allow for mistakes like that you’ve just got to keep piling positive and good habits and good shifts. Over time things will find their way. Those are the little things that come out of it that are just lessons that we need to continue to learn. As I said, we didn’t play poorly. I thought we played good enough certainly to get a point out of this game here today. We were right there. I’d like to see us generate more offence, but I still think we generated more than enough to score more than we did. Obviously, their goaltender, I think it’s fair to say, was their best player tonight. To me, you can still win games or get points if you’ve got good enough habits and those are the little things that have slipped a little bit for us here in the last few games. 

Q. Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: You spoke after practice yesterday about different ways Auston was contributing. He scored a couple goals tonight in ways we don’t typically see him score. What did you think of his game as he continues to adapt to what he’s dealing with?

Sheldon Keefe: I think it just speaks to the calibre of player that he is. I also think he doesn’t get enough credit for scoring those types of goals. I think you go back through his goals he’s scored more than a fair share of those types of goals. He’s got extremely good hands in and around the net. He doesn’t typically play in those positions so he doesn’t get as many opportunities as other people, but he’s got a lot of goals – I’ve looked at his career goals – that he scores in around the net. That’s what I’m talking about where it’s him just adapting his game a little bit, going to different spaces and he’s good enough abilities and sense to make good on those chances. 

Q. Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun: Tonight you get scored-on on a tough line change, your own deflection into your own goal and a tough penalty kill. Is this a case tonight of you beating you as opposed than them beating you?

Sheldon Keefe: Yeah I would say so, Steve. That’s kind of what I’m getting at. I think we definitely get caught on a line change but you need to make line changes, guys are tired so I think it’s about taking care of the puck and putting it in a good spot to let the line change happen in that case. Again, penalty kill has got to find a way to get a kill for us. We’ve got to get that stop, it’s a very similar goal to the one we gave up the other night. We’ve got to get a blocked shot and seven seconds left in the kill, you’ve got to get through it, we were right there. Winnipeg played a good game too, they defended well. They’re very opportunistic, but certainly when we’re talking about habits and mistakes, when you’re up against a goalie that’s playing really well and they’re not giving you anything for free on offense you can’t have those types of breakdowns if you’re expecting to get points out of games. For me that’s why we’ve come up empty handed in these three games. I don’t think we’ve played poorly. As I’ve said, it’s just little things that have end up going the other side and throughout the season a lot of nights, we’ve scored enough or bounces have gone our way. Looking back the other way I think we’re helping it go that way with some of our decisions and how things have slipped. Maybe we can chalk it up to fatigue, I don’t quite know. I just know we have to continue to learn from it. 

Q. David Alter, The Hockey News: What was your overall assessment of Zach Hyman’s game tonight?

Sheldon Keefe: I thought he was really good. He’s been really good for us. He played hard, big time goal he scored for us. He’s working, he’s doing his job for us. He’s been really good.


Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Just your thoughts on this game, you guys now losing three in a row. What do you think is going on from your perspective?

Justin Holl: I thought we just made some critical errors tonight which put us in a bad spot. We surrendered some goals when we shouldn’t have and let the game get away from us a little bit. We all know that we have the ability to score goals and score goals in bunches. I thought we had our chances in the third but you have to give credit to their goalie who’s very good. We just couldn’t find a way to get the fourth one.

Q. Bob McGill, Leafs Nation Network: Tonight, you have a 2-1 lead and were there just some missed opportunities as well where you could have upped your lead before they were able to get back?

Justin Holl: Exactly, I think some missed opportunities in there and a 2-1 lead is obviously never safe. The more goals that we can score the better but we still feel like we defend well enough to protect a lead like that and get our goals through our structure. It’s disappointing for us but nothing to do but move forward.


Q. Mark Masters, TSN: What did you see as the difference tonight?

Zach Hyman: We had some chances. We didn’t capitalize on all our chances and they had some grade A opportunities that they were able to capitalize on. They’ve got a bunch of elite players that can make plays, we just have to be ready for them for a full 60. It could have gone either way I think but they were able to capitalize a little more than us.

Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: After the first three game losing streak of the season, where do you think the team is at?

Zach Hyman: I think we’re in a good spot. I think all teams go through adversity, like you said this is the first time we’ve lost three in a row and we want to bounce back. We’re not happy about it obviously. Especially to a team that’s chasing us in the division and on home ice. We’ve got to be better but all teams face adversity throughout the year and it’s a good thing to go through a little adversity.


Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Two goals for you tonight. Obviously, you’d much rather have the win than the goals, but can you just assess the game tonight and give us an update on your wrist felt after playing tonight?

Auston Matthews: I thought it wasn’t a bad game, but definitely wasn’t our best. I think we had really good moments at times and had the puck in their zone and were creating lots of chances. I thought in the third period we had a couple really good looks and you’ve got to tip your hat to their goalie, he made some good saves. I don’t think chasing the game and being behind is obviously a position we’d like to be in, but I think a couple bounces either way we could have definitely been back in that game. I think we can take a lot from this one moving forward. We’ve got these guys two more times. Hopefully a good practice day tomorrow, rest up and make some adjustments and be ready for Thursday.

Q. Jonas Siegel, The Athletic: I’m just wondering how much pain or discomfort you’re in right now?

Auston Matthews: Once you get out there it dwindles away. I felt fine today and my legs felt good. We did some good stuff tonight. Obviously, we’d like to get the two points, but I think it’s always a positive when you’re helping the team in different areas of the game. 


Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Three losses in a row all in regulation. What’s your personal concern level here with what’s going on with the team?

John Tavares: We just haven’t been as crisp as we like to be for 60 minutes. We just don’t seem to be ending up on the right side of it. We’ve been in all these games, really tight. We’ve had chances to win them all. We’ve just got to make some key plays and obviously do a little better of a job defending against our opponent. We generated enough chances tonight. We just gave them a little bit too much off the rush.

Q. Mark Masters, TSN: You seem to be running into a bunch of hot goalies here of late. What stands out to you about the challenge presented to you by Connor Hellebuyck?

John Tavares: He’s a great netminder. Tremendous here last year, doing great things again this year. You just have got to continue to find ways to solve him and get to the net and create opportunities. We’ve got quality shooters. We’ve just got to find ways to capitalize on what we’re generating.


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