Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I’m wondering if you could tell us if Jake was taken to hospital and if you have any update on his condition yet?
SHELDON KEEFE: Yeah, he was taken to hospital. I’m told he’s responsive and all of that. Just awaiting his assessment.
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): Just wondering what the difference was today. You guys were able to generate a lot more. What was the difference from game one?
SHELDON KEEFE: Every game is going to be slightly different, it’s going to have its own personality. Today I thought we forechecked really hard right from the start of the game and some loose pucks became available, gave us an extra opportunity to attack the net. That was a really good sign for us but our guys brought it to another level today from a competitive standpoint and that really helped us in all regards.
Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): What was happening in the defensive zone that really negated the forecheck that Columbus had in game one? What were you guys doing a lot better today?
SHELDON KEEFE: Well we were doing a better job up ice in their half of the ice. As a result, most of the time when it entered our half of the ice they were in line changes and not forechecking as a full unit. That makes it a lot easier for us. That’s obviously every team’s goal going into a game and today worked out for us there.
Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): I guess if Jake Muzzin is going to hospital he’s out of the bubble and can’t come back even if he could. What will you have to do without him? What will losing him mean to this team?
SHELDON KEEFE: I’m not really certain on exactly what the protocol is for this situation. There are protocols in place for these types of situations and I’m not exactly certain what the details are. Our focus is and always will be just on his well-being and making sure he’s okay.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Was there any frustration with the fact Korpisalo seemed locked in and you’re getting the chances and you couldn’t find the back of the net? How do you feel the group handled that?
SHELDON KEEFE: I think we handled it well. It was on my mind, of course, just making sure that we stayed with it. I just kept monitoring our bench and monitoring our players’ mannerisms and how they were coming back to the bench. You see guys talking to themselves and I think we were just focused, focused on what we had to do on the ice and staying with it. So that was really good to see. It was not unlike what happened in game one in terms of us just staying with it, but obviously we were generating more today so there was a little bit more happening in and around the net. The goalie was a big difference for them but I really liked how our guys just took a drink of water and got ready for the next shift and stayed with it and believed in what we were doing.
Q. (Ken Campbell, The Hockey News): Mitch [Marner] just said that on the Muzzin play when you guys asked the official what had happened, he said that he was crosschecked. If that’s the case, do you wonder why they don’t call that more in the NHL? It seems like the crosscheck goes so uncalled and that might have been a reason why something like this could have happened.
SHELDON KEEFE: I think the refs are out there doing their best, doing their job and I’ve got to focus on doing my job, which is preparing our team and keeping us ready to go and that moment there was about keeping us focused. A lot of things happen in the game and it’s our job to just play through it.
Q. (Sean Farrell, NHL.com): What has Fred [Andersen’s] play through the first two games meant to the team?
SHELDON KEEFE: It means a great deal. Obviously, goaltender is very important. You’re seeing it on the other side as well with Columbus. He gives us belief in what we’re doing and if we crack, he’s going to be there for us. It’s two excellent games by him here now. Today when we did crack and they had a little bit of a look or a little bit of a push, he was there. He gives our guys even more life and energy.
AUSTON MATTHEWS AND JOHN TAVARES
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): What’s it like, the feeling of being two minutes away from the win and then seeing a teammate go down like that and just the quietness of the building?
JOHN TAVARES: No question, seeing one of your teammates go down, especially a guy like Muzz, you know the type of warrior he is. I think what he brings to our team is unmeasurable. Obviously, very tough. All signs are very positive being around him and nice to close it out for him, but certainly tough to see, especially how much we love that guy.
Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): Auston, could I get your thoughts on the goal that you scored and what you were feeling after Korpisalo had stopped the first 55 shots he saw in games one and two?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: Yeah, obviously excitement. It’s postseason, everything is tight out there and goals are hard to come by. It was nice to get that one and kind of jump start a nice push. I thought we played pretty well in the first period and second period and I think we just tried to stick with it. [Hyman] made a great play and I just tried to deflect it towards the net and it just happened to go in.
Q. (Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star): Question for John, earlier on in the first and second period, there were times when you were shaking your head during the power play and casting eyes to the ceiling in disbelief. Can you just contrast that with the celebration on your goal?
JOHN TAVARES: He made some great saves. I thought there was a couple that were deflected and were a little bit more fortunate on his side, but he’s obviously playing really well, he’s a really good goalie. You want to see those go in. I just tried to focus on the next shift, next opportunity. On the goal they really were aggressive and I think both D kind of jumped in and I was our last forward coming back and I kind of saw the play getting broken up so as I saw that, I just kind of anticipate that puck might be coming the other way so I was able to get a good bead on it and lucky enough to get that opportunity and nice to finish it off, especially after some of the chances I had.
Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): Auston, I’m wondering what the biggest factor was for the team in being able to create so many good looks in this versus the first one?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: I think both games, to be honest, we had some pretty good looks, probably more so tonight. I think just upping our compete level, getting to the net, dirty areas and trying to get on the inside where we can beat guys to the net. I thought we came out with a strong push to start the game and I think just the communication factor was there tonight for us and just full effort throughout the lineup.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): John, what allowed you guys to do a better job generating chances off the rush considering how well Columbus usually does against that?
JOHN TAVARES: I think we were just quicker tonight and that’s not just necessarily the way we’re moving our feet but I think just our execution and the way we moved the puck. I thought D did a great job of just handling their forecheck, which they do really well, and then I think as forwards we were just in sync reading off each other and doing good job of, when we had to, getting pucks in behind and getting on the inside and first on those races that allowed us to then set up the next couple of plays to break them down and create some opportunities, some more possessions. Obviously, it was a positive tonight for us, it’s something we have to continue, especially when you expect them to make some adjustments. I like the way we were just in sync and connected today.
Q. (Marty Klinkenberg, The Globe and Mail): In a game like this where you very much dominated but still it’s late in the second and it’s 0-0, does it start to get more tense as you’re playing?
JOHN TAVARES: Certainly those thoughts can creep in, but I think as a team when we’re playing like that I think we have so much belief in each other. I think the type of team we have that eventually it’s going to pay off, we’re going to find a way to break through. Don’t get discouraged and stick with it, we’re playing, we’re doing the things we want to do, we’re creating opportunities. Just sticking with it and not getting discouraged, like I said, just kind of staying one shift at a time. A little cliche but you’re just kind of staying in the moment, waiting for the next opportunity. Great play by [Matthews] to break the ice for us. It was a big goal and something he always does for us. As a team we just kind of fed off one another and he led the way.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN AND MITCH MARNER
Q (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): Your thoughts on seeing Jake Muzzin go down. He’s been such a warrior for you guys and so close to the end of the game too. What’s going through your head when you’re seeing him lying there in injury and being taken off on a stretcher?
FREDERIK ANDERSEN: Yeah it’s difficult. Seeing a guy like Jake that everyone cares about, he’s well loved in the locker room. Being as tough as he is it’s really hard to see him being told to lay down and not move. We’re really just thinking about him and making sure all the right steps are being taken and hopefully he recovers soon.
MITCH MARNER: Yeah, just like Freddie said, he’s a big part of this team, penalty kill, even-strength against the best players against the other teams. He really does mean a lot to us. Being beside him there when he went down and stayed down, obviously it’s a little worrisome and to see the stretcher come out, a lot of things running through your mind. Like Freddie said we’re all on his side, we’re all praying for him and just want to make sure when he does come back he’s 100 percent. There are a lot bigger things than hockey.
Q (Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press): For Freddie, what are you thinking when you’re seeing the guy at the other stop shot after shot? I think it was the 55th or 56th shot that they finally found a way through. What’s your mindset when you see the other guy doing that?
FREDERIK ANDERSEN: Just keep doing what I’m doing. What happens in their end is useless to think about. Just keep doing what I can do and be ready for when they do come. They’re putting a hell of a pressure on him and both games I think we’ve had the puck a lot and obviously been playing well, but I think we did a better job of getting in and getting second chances and having confidence in guys being able to score.
Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): Mitch, you were right there with Jake. When did you realize something wasn’t right?
MITCH MARNER: I just remember clearing the puck, I remember kind of turning over and seeing him on the ground. Kind of saw him get up on all fours. At this time I think the puck just exit, I was still kind of standing beside him and then I realized after drawing up to the blueline to try and stop them from entering, they dumped it in and hit the ref. At that point he was back down, full lying down. I just kind of skated over to him, I just asked him if he was okay. Obviously, he just kind of said, just give him a second and a couple of other things that doesn’t matter, it’ll stay between us. Like I said, we just want to make sure all the right things are happening to make sure he’s back to being 100 percent. He’s a big part of this team. Hopefully he recovers quickly. Like I said, there’s a lot bigger things than hockey, especially outside this world and his family is a major priority. You’ve got to make sure you’re able to still play with your kids.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): What was it like reuniting with Auston and how did you feel your game grew in today’s game versus game one?
MITCH MARNER: For myself I think I was just a lot more competitive with the puck, on the puck, a lot more dialed into my battles and being better consistently all over the ice. I think we worked the puck nicely around, we were using our speed, something we’re going to have to just keep doing and keep using our speed coming through the middle and supporting each other. The chemistry kind of just kicked right back with [Hyman] as well and we were making plays, we’ve just got to find ways to get around these guys trying to block our shots.
Q. (Ken Campbell, The Hockey News): Mitch, I just wanted to ask you as a forward out there who’s in the thick of the battle, that hit on Jake Muzzin was a crosscheck from behind. It was a fairly innocuous one but still a crosscheck from behind that seems to go uncalled almost all the time in this league now. Do you think the League has to do more about crosschecking now? A couple of years ago it was the casual slash and now they’re cracking down on that. Do you think they need to crack down on the crosscheck?
MITCH MARNER: It’s hard for me to say at this moment. I was beside [Muzzin] when the play happened and I was turning and shooting it while he was coming down so I haven’t seen the actual play yet. I think the player’s off two to three feet from the boards and a crosscheck does happen, usually it doesn’t matter how good you are on your feet, there’s a possible chance of you going head first into the boards. It’s always a scary incident. Like I said, I have not seen that play yet, reviewed or on my phone or anything like that, but we were asking the refs and their response was just he got pushed, he got crosschecked, he hit one other player and that’s how it all happened. I think usually when a player is two or three feet from the wall, that’s when the dangerous stuff happens and the injuries come in part. Like I said, I haven’t seen it, we’ll leave it to the League to discuss what they think is necessary.