Matthews, Nylander, Keefe reflect on team camaraderie after Game 7 loss

Photo credit:Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Auston Matthews and William Nylander almost engineered a comeback for the ages but the Toronto Maple Leafs fell short, losing to the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 7 of their first-round series. David Pastrnak scored in overtime, ending the Maple Leafs’ season and Toronto’s stars insisted its group was closer than ever despite the crushing defeat.
“It sucks to be honest. We were really close and we battled back into the series and I don’t know what to say, it’s just an empty feeling right now,” Nylander said post-game via Sports Illustrated’s David Alter.
Nylander scored the opening goal of Game 7, connecting on a feed from Matthews midway through the third period. It would’ve held up as a potentially franchise-changing goal but Boston responded back a minute later on a Hampus Lindholm equalizer. Ilya Samsonov fought valiantly for the Maple Leafs in a surprise start.
“This is as tight as the group as I’ve been a part of here,” Matthews said via Alter post-game. “And I feel like we say that every year, but I mean, it truly was an incredible group, incredibly tight. And the way we stuck together through the ups and downs of the regular season and postseason, as tight as the group as I’ve been a part of.”
Nylander and Matthews both fought through ailments during the series. Although he played in all 82 regular season games, Nylander missed the opening three contests of the playoff series with a migraine. It wasn’t initially disclosed what Nylander was fighting through and he told reporters after Game 7 that the Maple Leafs staff were worried he was dealing with a concussion.
Matthews played the best game of his career during a Game 2 victory, but that was the high point of the series for Toronto’s 69-goal man. The 2022 Hart Trophy winner was pulled after the second intermission of Game 4 with an undisclosed illness, then missed Game 5 and 6. It was only revealed a few hours before Game 7 that Matthews would suit up.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe also weighed in following the Game 7 loss.
“We’ve talked about breaking through a long time,” Keefe said via Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun. “Any answer is going to fall on deaf ears in that sense. I get that. The group pulled together, the core and the young guys. Lots of good things happened.”

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