Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that tied the series 1-1.
On facing an improved Tampa team tonight:
Yes, I thought they played better. That was the team we prepared for. The difference in the game is the special teams. In 5v5, it’s a fairly even game of hockey. His power play was better and we took too many penalties.
In so much special teams time in the series so far:
First of all, his power play is very good. That has been a big difference for them. It was for them again tonight.
We have to find a way to kill them. We did well in Game 1. It was a big reason why Game 1 went the way it did. It wasn’t like that today. We gave them too many chances.
On avoidable goals against PK:
I thought we kind of caught our breath on that first one almost like we thought we were over it. They turned it on very quickly. Credit to them. They came very quickly and took advantage of us before the term was over.
He who does not have a stick is hard. We gave them another look. That’s a good example and a sign of how you can’t give them free looks. You can’t give them extra chances.
I thought there were still very good elements in our penalty tonight. We only had a couple of bad times there. We gave them too many looks and too much time with the puck on our end tonight.
On team discipline over two games and penalties after the whistle:
Referees set the standard early. They took one after the whistle, which made it pretty clear that they were going to call it that after the whistle. We didn’t do a good job of reading that and responding to that.
I also thought, sometimes, that we took some tough penalties during the game. They called a lot of holding, tripping and that kind of thing. We have to do better. We have to be more responsible with that. We will be.
We played a good game here today and we had another good start. We were in a good place as a team. That goal at the end of the first half was difficult to accept, but you’re still there.
I think, at five on five, it was a pretty even hockey game. There is not much between the two teams. Special teams can make the difference. For them, they got the upper hand tonight.
On the two Wayne Simmonds penalties that led to goals against:
We’ll talk about it. We will be talking to our entire team. It’s not just those. Those are obvious because they’re after the whistle, but even things happened during the game with some of the penalties we took that were, in their own way, undisciplined.
That is in us. We had power play opportunities early in the game that we didn’t take advantage of. That could have been the difference in the game there.
There are a lot of things that happen in a game like this tonight that make a bit of a difference one way or another. They took advantage of us here today. We have to hit the road and get a win.
On the team push at the end:
It was a very good sign for our team that we didn’t just leave. We made it interesting there at the end. I liked that the crowd got back into it and supported us until the end.
It’s too big a hole to go back, but there’s the fact that we were there, it made it interesting and gave us a chance to see some things like six against five and things like that. You get to see that and get some replays.
Obviously, we didn’t like how we handled that third period to give them an extra cushion.
On Matthews’ line play with Bunting returning:
I thought they were good. They had good turns and good opportunities. It was a great goal that they scored for us. Auston gets the puck back for us, Mitch makes the play and Bunts finishes.
They another for us there in the third period. That’s really good for your confidence.
On confidence in the team’s ability to bounce back:
I think we just have to be confident in the things that we did well, the fact that we were there, and it’s really obvious what the difference is in today’s game. If you look at a lot of the elements of our game and how close it was to five against five, you have a belief that you can change that.
You know it’s going to be hard. There is not much that separates the teams. You have to be sharp, disciplined and committed shift to shift. We’ve gotten a pretty good taste now through two hockey games of what’s in store for us in terms of the series. You know it’s going to be hard. We have to hit the road and get a win.
On the response from top Lightning players:
They have world class players. They have a great team, a great structure, they are well trained and have a great goal. They have world-class players at every position, whether it’s Hedman at the back or Kucherov and the way he handles things on the power play. You are dealing with those elements.
We also have good players. I thought our good players were doing well here today. We’re going to need them to continue to improve through this series.