Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe: This isn't like last season

It's winner-take-all tomorrow night.

Michael Whitaker

If the script sounds familiar, that's because it is. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs missed out on a chance to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night, losing in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 4-3 final score thanks to an overtime tally from Brayden Point. Toronto had once again overcome an 0-2 deficit to snatch the lead from the Bolts, only to see them tie the score again courtesy of Nikita Kucherov. 

Both teams traded high quality chances in overtime prior to the winner. 

Head coach Sheldon Keefe, however, isn't feeling down after the devastating loss. In fact, he and his team are confident.

"We feel like the fact that our top players are thriving, feeling good, and are confident, as well as the reaction and boost we have had from our fans throughout the series, all combine with the perseverance and the grit that we have shown to come back in the last two games," Keefe said. "We just feel like this team has lots of fight in it and confidence and belief in what we are doing."

"It doesn’t make the game, the challenge, or the opponent any easier, but we certainly aren’t uncomfortable as we go into this game. We are ready for it."

Of course, fans will immediately point out that this is eerily similar to last season when Toronto enjoyed a 3-1 lead over the Montreal Canadiens in their series, only to drop the next three straight, including Game 6 in overtime on the road.

"I really do look at the two situations as far different," Keefe said. "Going into Game 7 last year and even in the Columbus series the prior year, you are on a bit of a downer going in because of your performance and how you failed to get it done."

"Although we lost in overtime last night, which is similar in a sense to Montreal, the manner in which we played, the calibre of our opponent, how hard they have pushed us, how we have handled that, how we put ourselves in a position to win, and how our individual players are feeling with their confidence that they have — all of those things combine to fill our group with excitement."