Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe praised the play of the Carolina Hurricanes after a 4-1 loss to the club on Monday. 

Keefe saw his team's winless skid extended to four games in the loss, but said the Maple Leafs put together a better effort than in recent games, only to be performed by the Hurricanes.

"When you're playing against the Carolina Hurricanes, I think they set the standard in the league," Keefe said. "Despite the fact that we competed at a higher level today that was required in the game, it's still not to the level necessary to be able to compete with a team like that.

"That's the hardest game we've played this season by a wide margin."

The Maple Leafs have now been outscored 18-6 over their current skid and have been held to just one goal in each of their previous two games. Reigning Rocket Richard winner Auston Matthews scored his first goal of the season in the first period to give Toronto an early lead, but the Hurricanes took over with three second-period goals.

"It feels good," Matthews said of finding the back of the net. "I would rather have taken the win, but hopefully that's a positive step for me moving forward."

Toronto will complete their three-game road trip on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are off to an 0-5-1 start this season.

“We've just got to believe,” forward Michael Bunting said. “I think we’re confident to get out of this rut.”