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Keefe raves about Leafs surviving consecutive elimination games

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe appeared to be extremely impressed with his team after authoring a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6, staving off elimination for the second consecutive game.
William Nylander scored twice while Joseph Woll shut the door and the Maple Leafs have tied the series at three games apiece, with the deciding tilt upcoming on Saturday at TD Garden.
“In my mind, we just played two Game 7’s,” Keefe told reporters post-game.
Keefe is correct in the most literal sense but figuratively, he has a point, too. Game 4 appeared to be the nadir for the Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner era as the Maple Leafs were booed off the ice in a 3-1 loss, while a bench flare-up between Matthews, Marner and William Nylander reverberated through the Greater Toronto Area.
Matthews has missed the past two games due to an undisclosed illness and with Max Domi centring the top line, the Maple Leafs have survived the 69-goal scorer’s absence.
“I just think guys have competed and worked incredibly hard and pulled together,” Keefe said Thursday of his team’s performances during Game 5 and Game 6 victories. “They fought. They laid down, they didn’t accept their fate and they changed it. They’ve been tremendous in terms of work ethic. Tonight, we don’t play a perfect game by any means. Guys worked. That first period, we gave up one shot. Not a perfect period, they had some looks but the way that we defended to deny anything clean was tremendous.”
Keefe also singled out Joseph Woll for a standout performance in Game 6. Woll was nearly perfect, surrendering a goal with 0.1 seconds left on the clock to Morgan Geekie. He kept Toronto’s lead safe with a barrage of saves in the third period, robbing Charlie Coyle with his glove to preserve the victory.
“Not a perfect game. When we made mistakes, Woller was incredible,” Keefe said.
Toronto has played two Game 7’s in theory, now it’s time for the real thing. Perhaps Keefe has finally figured a winning combination as the series turns back to Boston for an era-defining contest.

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