Maligned Holl praised by Leafs teammates, coach Keefe, who keeps same lineup for Game 5
Bunting back on top line at morning skate, while Nylander returns to 3rd unit
Sheldon Keefe is going back to the well.
The Maple Leafs head coach will dress the same lineup for tonight's Game 5 against the Lightning, some 48 hours after that group came out embarrassingly flat with a chance to grab a 3-1 stranglehold in their best-of-seven playoff series.
Toronto defenceman Justin Holl turned the puck over less than a minute into Sunday's debacle, leading to Tampa Bay's first goal and opening the floodgates at Amalie Arena against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
Keefe said he gave "lots of thought" to making changes, but decided after reviewing the video of the 7-3 loss that tied the matchup 2-2 he would ice the same roster, including keeping Holl with veteran blue-liner Mark Giordano on the third pair.
"I watched the game back the other night, and to me, the Giordano-Holl pairing was as good a pairing we had," Keefe said. "I've watched the game back three times now, and Hollsy's a driver of that a lot.
"To me, he's coming off his best game, certainly of the two that he played."
Keefe said the pairing of Giordano and youngster Timothy Liljegren didn't have the same chemistry in Games 1 and 2 at home as they did late in the regular season after the former captain of the Calgary Flames was acquired from the Seattle Kraken.
WATCH l Maple Leafs fall to Lightning in Game 4:
The slew of penalties in the tightly officiated series was also a factor in going back to the hard-nosed, defence-first option instead of turning to Liljegren.
Holl doesn't get enough love, Marner says
"He's stabilized our penalty kill," Keefe said of Holl. "There's a lot of other things, but he's done a good job there."
Leafs winger Mitch Marner said Holl has been "unbelievable" when part of the lineup this season.
I thought he was making good reads defensively. One of our best penalty killers.— Maple Leafs' Mark Giordano on defence partner Justin Holl
"Doesn't get the love he deserves," Marner said. "He's not afraid to step up and eat a [shot] block from a big-name guy.
"He made a lot of great plays last game."
Giordano said that ugly opening wasn't the whole story of the duo's Game 4.
"Hemmed in there a bit in our own zone," he said. "But other than the first shift, I thought we moved the puck well. I thought he was making good reads defensively.
"One of our best penalty killers. He's a confident guy."
The Leafs shook their lines up once again at Tuesday's morning skate with Toronto back in possession of the last change at Scotiabank Arena.
Kerfoot joins Tavares, Mikheyev
Michael Bunting returned to the top trio with Marner and Auston Matthews, while Ilya Mikheyev was with John Tavares and Alexander Kerfoot.
William Nylander, who has spent much of the season with Tavares but was also on the third line in Games 1 and 2, slid down to skate alongside David Kampf and Pierre Engvall.
Keefe said the thinking behind some of the changes was less about spitting up Nylander and Tavares, and more with an eye toward having Mikheyev and Kerfoot on one line, and Engvall and Kampf on another.
The fourth line of Jason Spezza, Colin Blackwell and Ondrej Kase remained unchanged.
Despite the lopsided score in Game 4 – it's been a theme for both teams in a series where neither club's been able to push back after falling behind -- Keefe said one of his big jobs in the post-season is managing the emotions of his players.
"It's the playoffs and you're up and down and it's a tough thing," he said. "Even the media is up and down.
"The emotions are all over the place."
Ex-Leaf Marleau retires at 42
NHL veteran and former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a career that saw him suit up for a record 1,779 career regular-season games over his 23-season career.
The 42-year-old from Aneroid, Sask., made the announcement in an article on The Players' Tribune.
Marleau last played in the 2020-21 season, when he had four goals and nine points over 56 games with the San Jose Sharks. During that season he passed hockey legend Gordie Howe's career games record of 1,767.
Marleau finished with 1,197 regular-season points (566 goals, 631 assists) over his career spent mostly with the Sharks, save for two seasons in Toronto and an eight-game stint with Pittsburgh.
He added 127 points (72 goals, 55 assists) in 195 playoff games.
Selected by the Sharks second overall in the 1997 draft, Marleau retires as the franchise leader in several categories including goals, points, power-play goals (161), short-handed goals (17) and game-winning goals 101.
He never got the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup over his long career. He helped the Sharks reach the 2016 Cup final, where they lost in six games to Pittsburgh.
Internationally, Marleau helped Canada win Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014, a World Cup in 2004 and the 2003 world championship.
Stars' Benn fined another $5,000 US
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000 US on Tuesday for tripping Calgary Flames forward Trevor Lewis in Game 4 on Monday night.
It is the second $5,000 fine of the series for the Dallas forward, who was docked for hick-sticking forward Andrew Mangiapane in Game 3 on Saturday.
Benn received a two-minute penalty for the incident with Lewis, which occurred 26 seconds into the second period of the Stars' 4-1 loss.
The best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 on Wednesday night in Calgary.
Benn, 32, has not scored in the series. He had 18 goals and 46 points in 82 regular-season contests.
On Feb. 19, he was fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct after squirting a water bottle at Chicago forward MacKenzie Entwistle.
With files from Field Level Media