Sebastian Aho led the way with his third straight multi-point game, registering 3 goals and 5 assists in the series and both goaltenders came up huge, with James Reimer showing off his talents in Game 3.
Aho and Reimer were joined by Warren Foegele to speak with the media over Zoom following Game 3.
On the team’s conditioning going into the postseason: Billy, as our strength coach, has done an unbelievable job. We worked really hard during camp. We were smart. We took a couple of days off and we had a couple of days we didn’t skate, but for sure, we all were working hard all camp.
On James Reimer: It was all game. He made big saves in the first period. And the end too. In all three games, our goalies were awesome. They gave us a chance to win every night and that’s what you need in the playoffs. They made some big time plays there and we are happy to have two hot goalies.
On his postseason performance: I have two really, really high-end players on my wings. They both help me a lot out there and I think we play pretty well together. That’s a big thing for us. I felt like I worked really hard after the season was paused. I knew if the season continued, I’d be in good shape and I feel really good right now.
On his goals and emphatic celebration: Our game plan was to stay in the hunt and just hound their defense. Forced a turnover and it happened at the right time for us. I made a move and it was a good goal. Big goal for us. It felt good. I don’t plan my celebrations. It was just from the heart.
Aho: Thanks bro.
On his goal: I thought in the first and second we weren’t really going to the net and Rod was preaching that we needed to be more simple and go to the net. It was a great shot by Brady [Skjei] and I was just hoping it went in.
On what was the difference in the series: The important thing was we needed everyone to contribute and we’re not going to go far if we don’t have everyone on board. First two periods, Reimer kept us in there. We weren’t playing that well and we dug in as a group. Through the series, there’s always someone stepping up big and all of us contributing at the same time. Just had to keep it simple and push forward.
On withstanding the Rangers push and countering it: You’re just trying to find some momentum and we were fortunate to have two great goalies. Reimer stood on his head today making unbelievable saves just to keep us in it. All the boys knew that we needed to be better and I think we showed that in the third.
On when he found out he was starting: [Rod Brind’Amour] let me know before the series that he was going to try and get me in depending on how things went. I think they told me a couple of days in advance and confirmed it yesterday after the game. Obviously, I’ve been preparing for four months. It’s been a long grind this entire season. Not what anybody wanted. Just worked hard and tried to take care of myself and prepare. It was a fun game. We probably didn’t play the way we wanted to at the start. They came hard, which was to be expected with their backs against the wall. As a goalie, you just try to hold the fort for as long as you can and the boys battled and we came alive in the third.
On getting back into the postseason after seven years: We all love hockey, but playoff hockey is the best. It’s the most fun. Nothing can touch it. Have had some fun and disappointments here in the playoffs, but I had a lot of fun in San Jose even though I didn’t get to play in that run. I learned a lot and it was a great team. It was really beneficial to be around that and have that experience with that team. You kind of carry that over into this game. It’s playoffs. It’s fun and it’s good to be back.
On seeing 4-1 on the board: Obviously you’re happy and excited, but I don’t like to take things for granted no matter how many minutes or seconds are left. I like to play to the last buzzer and then celebrate. When we scored to put it away with 30 seconds left, it’s exciting, but grind out the last 30 then have a good time.
On being back in Scotiabank Arena and the whole situation: It sucks not having fans. Let’s be honest. Fans really bring that excitement and that energy and momentum and the crowd, the way they’re pumped up before the game, those are some of the best moments as an athlete. First and foremost it sucks not having fans, but coming back here and being in the playoffs and having success in this building, it’s fun. A lot of memories here. A lot of things feel so different, without any fans and with stuff set up over the seats and in the stands, but still a lot of fun in this building and it’s good to be back and win games.
On the challenges of the circumstances: It’s not what you dreamed of. Fans are what bring that real excitement to the games. But I think as an athlete and as a team, we’re pulling for each other. You want to do the best for yourself, for your team, for your family back home. So many people made so many sacrifices for you. My wife is taking care of our kids back home and it sucks being away from them. You just try to work as hard as you can and make the most of it.
On the sequence late in the second period: It’s crazy now that I think about it. Guy came in on a breakaway and he tried to slide it five-hole. At first I thought it went in. I took a little peek behind me and it wasn’t there and guys were pawing all over the place. It was kind of a helpless feeling because you don’t want to move and kick the puck in. You’re just trying to find it. Guys were diving all over the place, Sami [Vatanen] made a huge save diving across and the puck went back out front and it went to the guy backdoor. Obviously I was out of position and at that point you just try to throw your stick out there and dive back and hope it hits you. Lucky enough for me, it did.