On any message leading into the third period of a game with a big momentum swing:
You look at the game, we wanted a really good start because we were coming off a road trip and we really wanted to focus on having a really good start, and they played the night before. We obviously did that. Built a five-nothing lead and then we kind of put the sails up a little bit there, and that’s not the team you want to put the sails up [against]. I really thought the last three minutes of the second period, they get a penalty shot, a goal, and then they score with a second and a half left. It gave them life, said, ‘you know what? We’re going to hang around, see what happens here.’ Otherwise I think we’d have made it a lot easier on ourselves. So, we just told the guys we’ve got basically a three-nothing lead going into the third period here, and we need to play the game the right way. I still think we didn’t check very well from the midpoint on of the hockey game, but I think it’s a good lesson for us to learn, one, that that the start of a hockey game’s very important. Even though I thought Toronto played very well, they chased the game. And, two, we’ve got to play a lot better without the puck than we did last night. [Reporter: What was it without the puck, Johnny, that you saw in your team? Was it gaps?] Just lots, to be honest with you. We gave up a lot of chances in D-zone coverage, which means we had people back in position but weren’t getting seals. So, for us, number one, it’s work. It’s physical, on puck recovery, in your battles, stick detail, and decisions. They all factor into being really good defensively. We can be. We weren’t. That’s just the fact of the matter. We’ll maybe give a one-off coming off a trip. Guys are a little bit mentally tired. We’re fortunate we can correct these things when we’ve won a game, but it’s not sustainable to give up those kinds of chances at home. [Reporter: After a game like that, do you focus on the things you can get better on? Even after a win, is that your main takeaway?] Well, we’ve been honest with ourselves from day one. When we win games, what did we do well, and what do we need to do better? We did a lot of things good last night. Like, the power play had some big goals for us. I thought we did some really good things offensively. We got production from different parts of our lineup. But we’ve got to tighten up. I think we know we can. But we just had a really good discussion this morning just about what we were talking about now. I think we’ve always wanted to make sure we’re trying to get better, and I think to do this you have to be honest with your performance. We were, the guys are, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.
On whether Nashville presents a different look when compared to recent opponents:
Really, really aggressive forecheck. Maybe the best skating defense in the league. They skate pucks out of trouble probably better than any team in the league. Depending on who plays net, one of the best puckhandling goalies in the league. They play a 1-1-3 neutral zone, which is a little bit different. There are a few teams that play it, but they’re very good at it, and their pursuit of the forecheck is very good. They’re going to come after you and they’re going to really pursue the puck aggressively, and I think their defense is a big key to their hockey team. It’s a different challenge, a little bit of a different animal than we’ve faced here lately, but certainly a team we’re going to have to be ready for.
On Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown provide a “comfort zone” for Michael Cammalleri:
I don’t know. I think Cammy’s a real good veteran player that kind of knows what he needs to do to get ready. I think it’s been a little bit of an adjustment when you change teams. A little bit of a different style, learning exactly what expectations are and not becoming hesitant in what he’s thinking as a hockey player, but he came really well trained, he came in excited about being here. We’ve moved him around quite a bit. He’s been playing power play with those guys, and I think he’s a good fit there, and then he’s been actually moved around with some of our younger guys and what I’d call our real working skilled players. I think when you have a veteran guy in your lineup like that that’s got a lot of experience in the league, I think it can only help the people he plays with.
On a defining characteristic of the team’s penalty killing success:
Well, I didn’t think it was as good last night. I think that’s an area that has to be better and it has been really good all year. Obviously, we’ve been getting great goaltending. I don’t know if there’s one characteristic. I think the guys are really committed. We have really committed workers and checkers and they’re our top guys. I think that translates into good penalty killing. They’ve been together for a while. I think Dave does a good job of going over the detail of that stuff, and I think that we all have a good understanding of the reads, so we’ve been able to remove some hesitation that allows us to be more aggressive. I don’t know. I don’t think there’s any one thing, but those are some of the factors that I think have allowed us to be successful.
On whether he had ever seen a player receive two penalty shots in the same game:
No. [Reporter: Not at any level?] I can’t recall. I’d have to go back. But I’m getting old and my memory’s not [inaudible/laughs]. I don’t know if I’d ever care to see Auston Matthews in two penalty shots.
On Brooks Laich’s interference penalty while leaving the penalty box:
I tried to argue that. He’s a veteran guy, give him a break there. But they called the rule. If he’s not all the way out of the box, it’s considered interference, and he still had a foot in the box. I think I’d have to agree that they made the right call.
-One quote withheld for today’s practice report
-Lead photo via Aaron Poole/NHLI