Leafs downplay trend of blown leads amid four-game winless streak
The Toronto Maple Leafs are winless in their past four games, despite holding a lead in each of those games.
Toronto blew a two-goal lead in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, allowing four goals in the final 25 minutes of the game. The loss came after the Maple Leafs held two separate one-goal leads in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, blew a 3-0 lead in Saturday's 5-3 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche, and saw a 2-0 lead erased in last week's 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders in overtime.
The skid has come after the Maple Leafs won four straight and head coach Sheldon Keefe cautioned not buy into the team's sudden downturn.
"What has it been, eight days? Like that's the trend is eight days? In the week before that, we won four in a row, got leads early, and took care of the game," Keefe said after Tuesday’s loss. "We played mature games against Anaheim and San Jose. We played a great game against the L.A. Kings. That is like a week ago.
"My concern with this little stretch of four games in seven or eight nights… We would like to be on the right side of it, but we could only control what was in front of us tonight. The guys played a good hockey game.
"If we play that game over, we are going to score four or five a lot of nights. They are a great team. They are going to get their two or three. But you win this game… The story will be about us giving up leads, but the story to me is more about the ability to execute on these scoring chances, grow a lead, pull away, and take away the will of the other team.
"That, to me, is really [the story] here tonight and even the other night against Detroit as well. We had a chance to score on our power plays and grow the lead, and we just didn’t. That is more of the story to me in these games here.
"In the two prior to that, we had multi-goal leads. We scored three – enough to win. That is not the story tonight."
Winger Mitch Marner said the team must ignore the outside noise and stay the course as they wait for winning results to once again follow.
"It’s because we’re a great hockey team and we got to ignore whatever anyone else says," Marner said. "We know we’re a great hockey team. We show it every night. These last four games that we’ve had leads we’ve played some awesome hockey, some great hockey.
"Sometimes stuff goes your way, sometimes stuff doesn’t. For us, we just can’t get frustrated at each other."
After going without a point in the previous two games, NHL leading goal scorer Auston Matthews found the back of the net less than a minute in against the Oilers. He added an assist in the loss while improving his goal total to 34 in 41 games this season.
“We did a lot of good things. We ran into a good team playing with a lot of confidence,” Matthews said of the Oilers, who have now won 11 straight games. “It’s frustrating.
“Obviously we’d like to not be giving up these leads, but I think on the positive side, there’s a lot of good things that we are doing, and it’s just a matter of being consistent executing on some of these opportunities that we have later in games.”